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Progress report from new radiology coalition formed to promote health care equity

At the annual meeting of the American College of Radiology (ACR) earlier this year, Dr. Geraldine McGinty made news by announcing the formation of the Radiology Health Equity Coalition in her Presidential Address. “The ACR has made a commitment to advance health equity through our collaboration with other Coalition members and our advocacy, research, artificial intelligence development and application as well as our radiology trainees and medical student recruitment efforts. We are here to support radiologists who make this public commitment as well. I urge radiologists to commit to advance health equity today.”

As @DrGMcGinty just noted in her #ACR2021 Presidential Address, health equity is very much in #radiology’s lane. A community-wide, coalition effort launches today to address health disparities & measurably change outcomes. Commit to act at https://t.co/nGq2Z5SAWL #RadHealthEquity pic.twitter.com/VU6kdz1NW8

— ACR Radiology (@RadiologyACR) May 16, 2021 

This week, the ACR provided a progress report. Now, there are eight major national radiology organizations that have joined in the launch of the health equity coalition: the American College of Radiology, the American Board of Radiology, Radiology Section Council of the American Medical Association, Association of University Radiologists, Section on Radiology and Radiation Oncology for the National Medical Association, Radiological Society of North America, Society of Chairs of Academic Radiology Departments, and Society of Interventional Radiology. State radiology chapters are also participating in the equity coalition. 

The ACR reported that the coalition is committed to addressing disparate diagnosis and imaging utilization statistics, such as:

  • Excess/potentially preventable deaths from cancer, lower respiratory disease, and other illnesses in rural areas are often double that of urban areas.
  • Black women are  42% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.
  • Black men are 52% more likely to die from colorectal cancer (CRC) than white men. The 19% CRC disparity may be due to fewer screenings.
  • Black Americans with diabetes are three times more likely to have a limb amputated.
  • U.S. Latinos are more likely to die from CRC than those in many Central and South American nations. The CRC death rate for U.S. Latinos has dropped more slowly than it has for whites.
  • Asian Americans are twice as likely to die from stomach cancers, eight times more likely to die from hepatitis, and have a tuberculosis rate more than 30 times higher than white Americans.
  • 39% of U.S. women without heath insurance had a mammogram in the past two years vs. 75% of those with health insurance.

This is an ambitious agenda. But appropriate. As the famous Chicago  architect and urban designer, Daniel Burnham said: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood."

The Radiology Health Equity Coalition hopes that it can -- through collaboration with other medical specialties, and community stakeholders -- sponsor initiatives to enhance the effectiveness of public health interventions that will increase, and make more equitable, access to health care.

Kudos to each of these radiology organizations for this effort!

Because medical imaging touches most patients at some point, radiologists are uniquely positioned to help eliminate disparities in healthcare.

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health care & life sciences, radiology, health equity

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