On November 6-7, 2017, members of the CAR were on Parliament Hill to celebrate International Day of Radiology and pay tribute to the work being done by their colleagues across Canada. This year, building upon the success of the last year's CAR Day on the Hill, the event has grown to encompass two days of advocacy and awareness-raising about the value of radiology and the importance of imaging for patient care.
The event kicked off with an evening reception in the Centre Block of Parliament Hill. Over 50 MPs and Senators attended the CAR's reception highlighting the value of radiology. Additionally, the reception focused on the theme of artificial intelligence and how technological advancements in the field are being harnessed by radiologists to enhance clinical workflows and optimize patient care.
This year, the CAR delegates were joined by representatives from IBM Watson Health Imaging and GE Healthcare, who provided demos of the AI tools currently being developed for use by radiologists in their clinical workflows.
A special thanks to our delegates: Drs. Mike Barry, Lindsay Cherpak, Carole Dennie, Bruce Gray, Will Guest, Ania Kielar, Emil Lee, Dan Lindsay, Willie Miller, Jean Seely, Gilles Soulez, An Tang, Jana Taylor, and Wendy Tu.
We were also pleased to debut our Value of Radiology infographic posters, which present a simplified and distilled version of a report released in January 2017 by the Conference Board of Canada. The poster was a centerpiece of the reception, and will be used as a teaching tool and promotional piece for our outreach to members of Parliament and the general public, as the CAR strives to increase awareness about the pivotal role of radiologists in the healthcare system.
Following the reception, CAR delegates participated in a day of one-on-one meetings with MPs, Senators, and senior staffers. In every case, these meetings demonstrated and strengthened the CAR's commitment to advancing the perspectives and priorities of radiologists in the national conversation about health care. Our conversations with MPs and their staff built upon the success of our presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance at the end of September, when CAR President Dr. Emil Lee defined our recommendations for the Federal Government. Namely, that the Government would invest in medical imaging equipment to improve access to care, clinical decision support tools to enhance appropriateness of care, and artificial intelligence research focused on healthcare applications, so that technological advancements being made can be harnessed for the good of patients.
"The CAR visit on the hill provided us with the firsthand experience of seeing the impact of our work to promote radiology," said Dr. Jean Seely, Breast Imaging Section Head at The Ottawa Hospital. "We saw that the politicians we met last year remembered us. We heard that the politicians we met have heard our message clearly about the unintended consequences of the tax cuts, the need for investment in MRI, CT and PET machines across the country to promote equitable access, and the need to invest in AI and decision support. This is time well spent; we have put a face on radiology and we are going to see the benefits in years to come.”
In addition to those investment-driven messages, throughout the day, CAR members emphasized the value of radiology in the broader healthcare system, and shared their stories of working with patients across their areas of subspecialization. The crucial work of radiologists is not always well-understood by the general public, and the events presented an opportunity to raise awareness about radiology itself, and to build bridges with Parliamentarians who are now better equipped to consider the perspective of radiologists when making decisions that affect the health of Canadians across the country.