BLOG: Women in Leadership: Leveraging Networks and Associations to Advance Radiology
Lisa Adams, CEO, and Tracy Phipps, CFO, of Radiology Imaging Associates, recently attended the Radiology Business Management Association Paradigm meeting in Colorado Springs. Lisa is the new president-elect of the Florida Radiology Business Management Association.
The number of female radiologists has been slowly climbing over the years, and yet women only account for about 26.5 percent of practicing radiologists in the U.S.1,2 The number of women in radiology leadership positions, such as a managing partner, chair, or executive committee member, is even lower at just 13 percent.3
ITN recently spoke with Lisa Adams, CEO of Radiology Imaging Associates (RA) in Daytona Beach, Fla., and the newly elected president of the Florida Radiology Business Management Association (FRBMA), on the increase of women in radiology leadership roles, how participation in radiology societies can benefit both aspiring and experienced women in the field, and the role technology and vendor collaboration with partners such as Fujifilm plays in propelling the industry forward.
ITN: What interested you about radiology and how did you get started in the field?
Lisa Adams: My journey into health care originated in rehabilitation services as an occupational therapist for a national company (NovaCare) providing services in nursing homes. Over a relatively short time, I grew to the role of area vice president and regional clinical consultant. Eventually I shifted by career path to academia and served as an assistant professor to graduate occupational and physical therapy students. One day I received a phone call from past executives of NovaCare, who were now with a national imaging center group named CMI. They were in search of an area vice president. Ready for a new challenge, I accepted the position and began learning about the amazing world of radiology. In 2006, I transitioned to Radiology Associates as operations director for their imaging centers. I became the COO in 2011 and then, amid the COVID shutdown in April 2020, assumed the CEO role.
ITN: What is the overall outlook for women in the industry and what are some of the biggest challenges?
Adams: The future is very bright for women. I've seen more female CEOs of hospitals, radiology groups, and other healthcare organizations in the past year in the state of Florida than ever before. That is indicative of the way that that we are progressing. It brings a balance and a much-needed human diversity and inclusivity to the product and the programs.
That being said, we still see a ratio disparity with gender in our leadership roles. In radiology, we have a high female to male ratio at the patient care level. Once you get to the executive level, it's seemingly reversed. For me personally, I didn’t focus on that in my career. I evolved into these roles through relationships I developed, by focusing on building my skills, by being a good human and leader, and by advocating for myself.
ITN: How important are those networking relationships for someone working to build their career?
Adams: Networking, keeping in touch with people, and learning from people is vital. My career path has been mostly defined by the interactions and connections with people. Every person you work with can bring value to your personal growth and the potential for future opportunities. I enjoy learning about people and their unique experiences. I'm inquisitive. I want to know how their careers were shaped, what they think, and who they recommend, whether I’m looking for advice, a new technology, or even organizational structure. I find that some of those informal meetings and discussions are more valuable than a lot of the formal ones.
ITN: Why did you become involved with radiology-focused societies? How did your involvement help advance your skills and experiences?
Adams: I met a lot of active members who encouraged me to learn about different technologies and regulatory processes, both of which are the biggest drivers of change in the healthcare industry. A lot of our roundtable discussions in these association meetings are centered on maximizing efficiencies and navigating the ever-changing governmental influences on this industry.
As the president of FRBMA, my voice now carries a little bit further. I have only been in this role a couple of months, but I'm finding that I can use this voice to inform and advocate for current initiatives that are impacting radiology. I'm a big proponent for continuous progression and trying to maximize our patient care and radiologist experience.
The radiologist experience is key because they are the ones interpreting the studies and providing the quality in our care. Their eyes are critical to our process, so I am constantly exploring and trying to creatively provide them with an environment conducive to the highest level of clinical diagnostic care.
ITN: What advice do you have for aspiring women in the field?
Adams: Don't see yourself as a label that needs to be overcome. See yourself as an individual who is defined by their skills, performance and responsiveness to situations and others. See yourself as the leader. See yourself as that conduit to be able to help people recognize their own value, and to be part of a team that celebrates their achievements and tackles their challenges together. It is my job to help you and support you in your journey to find your purpose and respect others whose purpose and values may be different. You are human and you have skills and you have abilities - you need to believe in yourself and advocate for yourself.
ITN: You mentioned leveraging your networks to help research new technologies. To what extent is the industry driving advancements in technology?
Adams: Two things that have driven the technology, or escalated it, have been regulatory changes and reimbursement changes. In every other industry, if your costs go up, you increase your price. In healthcare, we can’t do that. Our reimbursements go down and our costs go up. We have to explore and develop ways to make up that difference.
Our need to increase efficiencies has driven technological advancement. We needed to be able to scan faster, so our scanners are faster now. Our processing times are faster now. Studies that routinely took 45 minutes to an hour can now be scanned in half that time.
Not only can we increase our throughput and our efficiencies, but technologies have emerged to allow us to have a better sense of safety and screening, from onsite lab work to metal detection for MRIs.
With COVID, we saw a huge leap in emerging technologies. We went from thinking we would like to have certain features and benefits available “someday” to it being a necessity. We also saw ways our existing technologies could help reduce risk in a COVID climate – including the digitization of paperwork and check-ins.
ITN: Do radiology leaders and radiologists need to keep a pulse on technology advancements to progress in their careers?
Adams: You don't have to be a technology wizard, but you do need to understand, especially in this industry, how technology can be utilized to maximize your efforts. I like to say I bridge the gap between my IT department and the clinicians and site managers. I do this by facilitating a greater understanding of the clinical workflows or the operations and how technology may or may not be adapted to best support that workflow. Anybody working in radiology needs to have a healthy respect and at least a solid knowledge of how it all works together.
ITN: Are there any specific technological advancements that have majorly impacted your Radiology Imaging Associates network?
Adams: When you’re running 12 busy imaging centers and serving 6 different hospital systems that serve over a million patients across five counties and an ocean, the last thing you need is distressed staff, operational chaos, and miscommunication with patients. I have a “people first” leadership style, so again, if I can find solutions that help people perform their jobs efficiently, enhance patient care, and alleviate burdensome and unnecessary processes, then I get excited.
We view our patients as the savvy consumers they are. After all, whether it’s booking dinner reservations, shopping, or renewing a driver’s license, today’s consumers appreciate online, self-service solutions. So why should healthcare be any different?
Fujifilm’s Synapse RIS has been the workflow management system of choice for our network, and it’s done wonders for our ability to streamline our operations. And with Fujifilm's key partnerships, we were able to quickly leverage an established relationship to further enhance patient engagement.
ITN: On a similar note, have collaborations with solution providers helped you achieve your vision for the future?
Adams: One of our goals as a company is to streamline the number of vendors we engage to create the best and most stable technology environment. Whenever you have multiple vendors in play, you have multiple integrations and multiple points of potential failure that you may not take into consideration or anticipate. With a single vendor, or vendors who are in concert with each other, we can progress much faster.
After a long and strong vetting process - looking both at in-market solutions as well as future product roadmaps - we ultimately partnered with Fujifilm for their Synapse PACS and RIS about eight years ago. This partnership has deepened over the years as we worked together through much of their development of many of their Synapse RIS upgrade components. We gave recommendations, got feedback and tested. With them, for example, we have been able to progress from our radiologists reading on two or sometimes three different workstations to meeting our goal of reading on one single read station. We have achieved that not just because the Fujifilm solution does what we need, but also because their people and their developers partner with us to develop solutions.
ITN: How can more experienced radiologists and executives carry forward this spirit of collaboration to better support the next generation of radiologists?
Adams: Be involved in associations where you meet young professionals. Sit on boards at your local level, even outside of your industry. Meet with them and talk to them and share experiences. I probably learn more from them than they learn from me, but it serves as a connection that can last for a long time and lead to future career opportunities.
ITN: Any closing thoughts or messages for women in the industry?
Adams: This is an exciting time, and the potential is limitless. I think women are really coming into their own. We are realizing that we can do and have it all. Work-life balance is a key value indicator in today’s workforce. We are finding ways to grow in our careers without sacrificing that balance, expanding our families and outside interests without risking our potential for promotions at work. We are finding ways to reach new heights, and that’s impressive.
I think we can all be successful if we are willing to constantly learn and grow, because that is what this fast-paced and evolving healthcare landscape demands.
For more information: https://healthcaresolutions-us.fujifilm.com/enterprise-imaging/listing