There’s been a lot of talk over the years about radiology’s “image problem.” Survey after survey shows that many patients don’t fully understand what radiology is or what a radiologist does, and in a healthcare environment increasingly focused on demonstrating value, that’s certainly a reason to be alarmed.
Instead of ignoring this trend and carrying on as if nothing was wrong, professionals within the industry smartly went to work. Face-to-face interaction started to become more common. More videos started popping up online that explain who radiologists are, who technologists are, and how the two positions work together to provide important patient care. Radiologists started engaging more on social media, sometimes even taking part in live Q&A sessions with real patients. These might not seem like huge changes, but they’re the kind of things that can make a real difference when it comes to improving patient perception.
There’s something else happening right now that could help with radiology’s image problem: more radiologists are starting to run for public office. For example, Stephen Ferrara, MD, an interventional radiologist, is running for Congress as a Republican in Arizona’s 9th Congressional District. And Nicole Saphier, MD, a radiologist from New Jersey, is currently running to be elected to the council of Morris Township, N.J.
If you ask me, this is outstanding news for radiology. I’m not implying radiologists are running for office just to help the specialty get more attention—they’re clearly doing it because they care about their communities and want to make a real difference. But it’s encouraging to know these individuals with backgrounds in radiology are making names for themselves in this way. Don’t you think, for instance, more patients in Arizona might know what a radiologist does if their Congressman is a radiologist?
It’s yet another way to cut away at the specialty’s image problem until it’s completely gone. And anything good for improving public awareness about radiology is good for radiology, period.