Radiology without borders requires a coherent advocacy strategy that has a substantial impact on healthcare and make certain that medical imaging is adequately represented in face-to-face discussions with European Union institutions, member states, and external stakeholders.
That’s the view of Prof. Katrine Riklund, pro vice-chancellor and professor/senior consultant in radiology and nuclear medicine, Umeå University Hospital, Sweden. She believes it is important for radiologists to be “at the table” and become more visible.
“Radiologists are under-represented in EU healthcare decision-making, whilst at the same time we see the growing impact of legislation and policies on the profession, plus increased healthcare demands due to an aging society,” she told ECR Today.
Targeted and coordinated advocacy is a multi-layered process that includes problem identification, strategy development, action plans, reassessing and adjusting goals and evaluation, according to Riklund, a past president of the ESR. Additionally, healthcare demands are growing rapidly due to an ageing society in combination with budget constraints.
Much of Sweden’s own legislation has its origins in EU laws, which can at times be notoriously difficult to navigate, but it is crucial to engage with all channels in order that radiology can lobby effectively. Equally important is the need to promote harmonisation across Europe of legislative processes, education and patient safety standards she commented.
Harmonisation and standardisation remain urgent priorities if scientific mobility and working across borders is going to continue to grow in Europe, and it can often be difficult to understand how such variations exist in areas like breast cancer screening when radiologists work in an era based on the principles of evidence-based medicine.
Evidence-based radiology requires multicentre collaboration to identify best practice and standardise it and share it. Investing in trainees’ mobility means promoting collaboration among centres that cannot remain isolated, and it may go some way to standardise techniques and terminology in different countries, which are critical to the development of international guidelines. Therefore, a call has been made for a common international imaging lexicon and standardised imaging protocols that could be achieved through structured reporting and other techniques to provide a uniform method of information sharing.
In her own field of hybrid imaging, knowledge of both nuclear medicine and radiology is vital for effective disease assessment, and radiology and nuclear medicine trainees are demanding crossover training to optimise practice, according to Riklund. For instance, it is essential to ensure that the data gained from the CT and MR part of a PET/CT or PET/MR examination are optimised.
The role of radiology in these hybrid examinations is much bigger than some people think. A high-quality CT or MRI during a hybrid procedure can not only localise disease but also provide doctors with considerable information about it and about treatment response. Therefore, hybrid imaging specialists need to train in both radiology and in nuclear medicine, she noted.
Scientific mobility can be important not only for a radiologist’s personal development but also their future employability because it fosters respect for diversity and an understanding of other cultures. In addition, it helps to encourage linguistic pluralism and increase cooperation between higher education institutions.
Some observers think a ‘research passport’ similar to the U.K. good practice National Health Service system could potentially hold the key to validating international degrees and recognising qualifications and postgraduate professional courses across borders. Such a system may eliminate the current situation where radiologists who gain work experience in a different country from which they graduated in, will no longer be considered the newcomer, and whose salary may more appropriately reflect their status and seniority. In this respect, the European Diploma in Radiology (EDiR) serves a vital role and is fully endorsed by the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) and the ESR.
Medical professional organisations such as the ESR and UEMS are working towards enhancing medical education and training and promoting patient safety by coordinating initiatives and providing recommendations to the European institutions on the harmonisation of medical education across Europe.
The ESR closely monitors and assesses EU legislation and policy developments to ensure that EU initiatives benefit clinical practice and patient safety. ESR representatives participate in the EU policymaking arena as partners in stakeholder consultations and expert groups, and it regularly organises policy events and issues statements and position papers. It aims to offer a united, powerful voice to European radiologists.
Since 1958, the UEMS has been the voice of 50-plus medical specialities from the EU and beyond, advocating for patient safety and quality of care through harmonisation of specialist training. It is the oldest medical professional organisation in Europe and celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2018. The UEMS represents over 1.6 million medical specialists, and has strong links and relations with European institutions, other independent European medical organisations, and the European medical/scientific societies.
The UEMS and the ESR have joined forces to present a discussion of the visibility of imaging professionals in the EU.
Joint Session of the ESR and UEMS
Visibility of imaging professionals in the EU
- Putting your interests first: two approaches, one goal
- The ESR approach
Lorenzo E. Derchi; Genoa/IT
- The UEMS approach
Bernard Maillet; Brussels/BE
- What does the EU mean for me? A radiologist’s guide
- To be or not to be at the table: why advocacy matters for radiologists?
Katrine Riklund; Umea/SE
- Creating a European radiology workforce: the value of qualifications across borders (Part 1)
Carlo Catalano; Rome/IT
- Creating a European radiology workforce: the value of qualifications across borders (Part 2)
João Grenho; Loures/PT
- Setting European standards for radiology: making your qualifications count at home and abroad
Laura Oleaga Zufiría; Barcelona/ES
- Setting European standards for interventional neuroradiology: the UEMS ETR in INR
Marek Sasiadek; Wroclaw/PL
- Setting European standards for ultrasound: which way to go?
Paolo Ricci; Rome/IT
- Staying ahead of the curve with CME/CPD
- The importance of CME/CPD across Europe: the role of EACCME
João Grenho; Loures/PT
- Which kind of European CME/CPD do the radiologists want to gain?
Milos A. Lucic; Sremska Kamenica/RS
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Kim SY, Xydias T, Peters AA et al (2019) Radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians are looking forward to a cross-curricular training. Eur Radiol. 29(9):4803-4811: european-radiology.org/5989
Nyhsen CM, Humphreys H, Koerner RJ et al (2017) Infection prevention and control in ultrasound – best practice recommendations from the European Society of Radiology Ultrasound Working Group. Insights Imaging. 8(6):523-535: i3-journal.org/580