Marketing, Promotion, Public Relations

ASTRO Patient Brochures and Publications Honored
What Is Radiology Worth to You?
Strength from Within

ASTRO Patient Brochures and Publications Honored

The American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO), Fairfax, Va, has won several professional publication awards in recognition of its public awareness campaign and two member publications. The Associations Advance American Awards Program and MarCom Creative Awards both lauded ASTRO for its excellence in print communication. With 8,500 members, ASTRO is the largest radiation oncology society in the world; it focuses on promoting excellence in patient care, providing opportunities for educational and professional development, promoting research, and disseminating research results.

ASTRO’s radiation therapy brochure received an honorable mention.

The campaign, “Understanding Your Cancer Treatment Options”—featuring more than a dozen brochures designed to educate patients and their families—was honored by the Associations Advance American Awards Program with an Award of Excellence for 2007. Each brochure explains different treatment options for a specific type of cancer, including radiation therapy, surgery, and chemotherapy, as well as information on clinical trials and support organizations. This year, the brochures have been updated, and some have been translated into Spanish; they also have been converted into a patient-friendly Web site, available at

MarCom Creative Awards, an international competition that recognizes achievement by marketing and communications professionals, awarded ASTRO with three honors: the Annual Meeting Guide won gold, the highest distinction, for top internal publication; the ASTROnews won gold for external newsletter; and the patient booklet “Radiation Therapy for Cancer” won an honorable mention in the educational brochure category.

“Providing the information that patients and their families need to make an informed decision about cancer treatment is invaluable, and providing useful information for our members is a key part of our mission,” Laura I. Thevenot, CEO of ASTRO, said in a press statement. “Knowing that our publications are making a difference is very rewarding.”

—C. Vasko

What Is Radiology Worth to You?

One passionate radiologist advises building the specialty’s future from the inside out

By Dana Hinesly

The theme of RSNA 2006 was “Strengthening Professionalism”—a topic close to speaker William Thorwarth’s heart. In his presentation—given as part of the “Important Health Policy Issues Affecting Radiology” panel—he asked radiologists to become active members of their health care team.

“Today’s sophisticated tools mean we can make diagnoses with images that make pathologies very conspicuous, but that makes everyone else say, ‘I could’ve seen that,’ so they think they can do what we do,” said William T. Thorwarth, Jr, MD, FACR, of Catawba Radiological Associates, Hickory, NC, and past president of the American College of Radiology. “We must distinguish the radiologists from the pretenders, and let it be known that we can provide care and be an integral part of the health care team, no matter what time of the day or night.”

William T. Thorwarth, Jr, MD, FACR

Thorwarth believes that the best way to make this point is by demonstrating the value that a seasoned radiologist brings to the diagnosis and treatment processes—for organizations and patients alike.

“People are tired of paying simply because the service was performed, without knowing what value that service added, so that puts the onus on us,” Thorwarth said. “If we really believe that we do our work better than anyone else, then we have to be willing to participate in these processes that generate the data showing that, in fact, interpretations by radiologists and performance of procedures by radiologists truly make a difference.”

Thorwarth also urged radiologists to be the support they are seeking. “I think we must ask ourselves not only what the leaders in the major organizations can do to preserve our practice, but also what we, as individuals, can do to preserve the profession,” he says.

He challenges other radiologists in practice to make tangible contributions to the future of the specialty by donating 1% of their net revenues to research, educational support, or political advocacy efforts.

“Last year, 7% of radiologists gave to the RSNA Research and Education [R&E] Foundation—and 80% of that 7% were academic radiologists. So where are we in private practice? We are invisible,” Thorwarth said, citing the existence of such entities as the American Heart Association (AHA) supporting cardiology research. “There is not a national organization to support radiologists, so no one is going to support us but us.”

In illustration, Thorwarth—who is on the R&E Foundation Board—noted that in 2005, the AHA doled out five times the grants (in dollars) that the RSNA R&E Foundation has been able to issue since its inception 22 years ago. Last year, the RSNA R&E Foundation gave out $1.6 million in grants. “But the fact is, the AHA put out $130 million in grants last year. We have to step up,” he said.

Thorwarth also would like to do away with the thinking that this type of giving is humanitarian in nature. He views it as one more insurance policy that physicians should not be without.

“I buy medical liability insurance; why not pay 1% to ensure the future of a profession that we were so fortunate to inherit and that we want to pass on as a vital career?” Thorwarth asked. “We need to dispel this concept that this is philanthropy. This is not philanthropy; this is the cost of doing business.”

He added, “We have an opportunity to seize control of our future, but it does require us to make a culture change in how we practice and how we prioritize our resources. Lots of great opportunities are out there, but it comes down to one question: Is the ability to determine our own future not worth 1% of our net revenue? To me, there’s no question about it.”

Dana Hinesly is a contributing writer for Axis Imaging News. For more information, contact .

Strength from Within

Construct a plan to develop your radiology department’s leaders

By Dana Hinesly

It sounds like a cliché to say that individuals are only as good as the strength of their teams, but it couldn’t be truer for medical professionals who must unite in order for patients to experience seamless continuity of care.

Roger Rhodes, CRA, FAHRA

Despite this reality, many health care organizations often fail to provide resources allocated or used for the individual development and growth of front-line leaders, such as managers, supervisors, coordinators, and team leaders, according to Roger Rhodes, CRA, FAHRA, vice president of operations at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, Milwaukee.

Rhodes addressed the topic in his presentation at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Healthcare Radiology Administrators (AHRA), held July 30–August 3. During the session, he shared the personal experiences of his facility and the approach the team used in developing a leadership development program that was implemented at Wheaton.

The session, titled “Leadership Development and Succession Planning: A Model for Medical Imaging Services,” encouraged radiology administrators to work together on the effort, systematically increasing the number of these types of programs across the country.

What started as discussions and recommendations from the directors of imaging services eventually led to seven half-day leadership development sessions that now take place each quarter at Wheaton. The program presently has almost 50 leaders participating.

Providing a list of suggestions to make such gatherings productive, Rhodes stressed the need to focus on imaging-specific topics. For example, when tackling the idea of service excellence, the meeting agenda should directly relate to how that goal can be applied to day-to-day tasks performed at the facility.

Each meeting is designed to make the most of the available time, with a tightly woven schedule focusing on only two or three topics. Suggested agenda items are “hot” topics of the day, either industry-wide or at a particular facility—Rhodes strongly suggests making the most of having all of the leaders in one spot to address these pressing issues—as well as new concepts or philosophies that will get the team thinking about old issues in new ways.

Possible subject matter ranges from operational excellence or productivity benchmarking to addressing financial issues with the AHRA textbook on basic financial management or setting guidelines and principles for the appropriate use of e-mail as part of daily workflow—the last of which Rhodes noted was the best session that Wheaton has ever had.

Wheaton’s Warnings

If you are starting a leadership program at your facility, Roger Rhodes, CRA, FAHRA, of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, offers the following tips:

  • Don’t make the sessions too complex.
  • Stick to the basics of management.
  • Make it fun.
  • Be sure to build in some social/team-building time.
  • Designate an owner, someone who pays attention to detail.
  • Help those participants who might feel some anxiety with the program.
  • Design your program to fit your individuals rather than using a cookie-cutter approach.
  • Require attendance and participation.
  • Provide practical information with handouts and notes.
  • Choose a convenient time and location.
  • Have a well-planned agenda—take advantage of having all of your leaders in one location.

In addition to strengthening the professional team, the program has had a number of unintended benefits. Topping the list was the fact that, by spending this focused time together, the radiology administrators in the organization began to feel more like a cohesive unit.

Rhodes sees this type of program as an investment in the talented and hardworking employees already in place at an organization. Although acknowledging the cost of leadership development training is sometimes used as justification for not putting together such a program, he believes that “the cost of external recruitment is very high; you may as well flip a coin to determine if a candidate will be a good fit with your organization. [And] the costs of [nonexistent] or bad leadership are even higher.” Rhodes noted that recruiting one manager from outside the organization bears a price tag of $7,000 to $25,000. In fact, of the 46 participants in Wheaton’s program, six (13%) have received internal promotions within the past 18 months, so promoting from within equaled a cost avoidance of $42,000 to $150,000. “Participating in and leading your own program is the best way to get better acquainted with the depth of talent that you already have in your pipeline,” Rhodes said.

To keep costs at a minimum, he advises administrators to perform the bulk of the work in-house: requesting educational topics from participants, hosting meetings in existing (and free) work spaces, and recruiting internal experts as speakers. The cost for Wheaton’s seven half-day sessions has been a total of about $3,000, which includes producing materials, refreshments, and speakers, but does not include labor costs and replacement labor of those in training.

Though there are various other models for instituting such a program, the approach taken by Rhodes and his colleagues has been extremely effective. Since its inception in December 2004, attendance has been approximately 90%, and there has been no external recruitment for imaging services leadership positions.

“Enlist support and participation from your human resources and organizational development staff [to] utilize it as a forum to roll out key initiatives and develop synergy,” Rhodes said. “[We learned it is best to] stick to the basics of management, be sure to build in some social/team-building time, and make it fun.”

Dana Hinesly is a contributing writer for Axis Imaging News. For more information, contact .