A new report from a joint task force of the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) recommends improved access to interventional radiologists (IRs) in small and rural areas. The task force was formed to explore strategies for recruitment and retention of IRs in rural areas, which have the greatest challenges with access to interventional radiologic care.

“Interventional radiologists play a key role in improving patient health outcomes and creating healthier communities,” said Alan H. Matsumoto, MD, FACR, FSIR, Vice Chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors and a member of the joint task force. “The recommendations should be beneficial for practices in small and rural areas that hope to recruit interventional radiologists and provide the care patients deserve.”

The task force focused on improving training opportunities, creating templates to help radiology practices and hospitals provide interventional radiology services in small and rural communities, and developing appropriate financial models to recruit IRs to these areas and retain their services.

“Access to an interventional radiologist’s care can be the difference between life and death, yet millions of Americans living in rural communities do not have access to the image-guided treatments IRs perform to literally save life and limb,” said SIR President Parag J. Patel, MD, FSIR, professor of radiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. “Access to interventional radiology services improves the care offered within a hospital or health system. The recommendations outlined in this paper will help practices attract IR talent and expand IR services where they are often needed the most, eliminating IR deserts and improving patients’ access to the care they need.”

The report was published online in the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR).