News | September 25, 2008

Is Radiology on the Path to Extinction?

September 26, 2008 — The October issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR) examines the growing threats to the survival and professionalism of radiology and the ways radiologists can combat them — by distinguishing themselves to referring physicians as experts, engaging in subspecialty training and become increasingly involved in patient care.

In the article “Presidential Address: Distinction or Extinction?” author Barry D. Pressman, M.D., FACR, said that imaging use is growing at five times the rate of the radiologist population, and radiologists score highest among other specialties for acceptable image quality. Pressman urges radiologist colleagues to take the lead in combating commoditization by continuing to deliver value to the health care system through frequent patient and referring physician interactions, initiating research opportunities and delivering quality interpretive consultations, rather than just a list of findings, through their reports.

Compensation for radiologists will likely slow as they are pushed into practicing in larger organizations, according to Frank Levy, Ph.D., author of “Computers and the Supply of Radiology Services: Anatomy of a Disruptive Technology.” The explosion of computers and their benefit to productivity will lead to some market growth; however, this growth will be paired with the need for increased specialization as competition for reads among nonradiologist physicians increases. The author emphasizes that the economic position of radiology is no different that that of any other occupation, and is prone to changes in supply and demand.

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