Society of Interventional Radiology

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fueling new era of IR big data

By James B. Spies, M.D., MPH, FSIR 
SIR 2014–15 President

Health care is moving toward a value-based care model, one in which analytics have become a primary focus of health systems. Internal benchmarking typically used to evaluate performance is not enough to meet government mandates, ensure reimbursement and avoid financial penalties. We recognize that we need IR big data—huge pools of information that reveal major trends and ensure high-quality effective outcomes and patient safety.

SIR’s actions with comparative analytics, bringing together data from patients and providers in real time, will help turn IR big data into IR big action. We need to answer questions that have broad implications for patient care and fuel the future with data-driven discoveries. SIR has entered this new era by collaborating with our colleagues in other specialties, the government and industry—and by developing new mechanisms for broad-based studies.

In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) raised concerns about the safety of vena cava filters, calling on medical specialists to help evaluate potential significant health risks for patients. SIR allied with the Society for Vascular Surgery to form the IVC Filter Study Group Foundation, which initiated PRESERVE, the first industry-supported, large-scale, multispecialty prospective clinical research trial to evaluate the use of filters and related follow-up treatment in the United States. This study intends to enroll 2,100 patients at approximately 60 centers, answering questions about the current indications of filter placement, retrieval, safety (fracture, migration, perforation) and efficacy.

This isn’t the first time that SIR has developed a large-scale study in collaboration with others. The FIBROID Registry, initiated with input from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and FDA, was the largest, multicenter, prospective voluntary registry on any treatment for benign uterine fibroids. Supported by industry, the study enrolled 3,100 patients and provided both short-term safety and long-term efficacy outcomes. Equally important, the registry demonstrated the ability of SIR members to work together in a large study to answer an important public health question.

FDA is developing a number of initiatives to support broad-scale collection of safety data and more robustly identify problems with products once in clinical practice. SIR volunteers meet regularly with FDA representatives, participating in essential information exchange. We often present clinical aspects of new treatments or procedures with new technology being applied to help FDA reviewers understand the context of management of the clinical condition. Additionally, SIR engages in an FDA network of experts, a group of outside clinicians, scientists and engineers who provide the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) staff with rapid access to our expertise.

SIR and SIR Foundation remain committed to quality improvement and mechanisms to assess performance in interventional radiology. We are collaborating with the American College of Radiology and an IT solutions provider to develop and design an IR Registry for maintenance of certification (MOC) and Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) reporting. With the developing SIR registry efforts based on structured reporting, we have the opportunity to get input from FDA staff and others on important questions that might be answered by this type of quality improvement effort.

Interventional radiologists pioneered minimally invasive medicine, and we are continuing to carry that charge. Our efforts will result in better monitoring of patient outcomes and earlier identification of problems with devices that we use in our treatments. We have never stopped defining the future of medicine and adapting to the evolving health care environment. We are proud that SIR’s concerted actions reflect our new brand, and we will continue to harness image-guided therapies to develop breakthrough treatments, change medical practice and improve the standard of care.

I look forward to discussing these and our other efforts with you at this year’s Annual Scientific Meeting.

Corporate Ambassadors: Creating value for IR together

By Susan E. Sedory Holzer, MA, CAE
SIR Executive Director

SIR’s new brand was recently introduced to the readers of IR Quarterly. I hope you will resonate with the strategic imperative behind this effort as described in this feature article. I also hope you will see that this effort is not just about a new look, but is equally about the importance of actions and behaviors for strengthening the SIR brand.

When we explored the action side of branding with our industry partners, we learned that although they have enjoyed longstanding, productive relationships with the society and the foundation, there was room to improve.  We learned that supporters want to know exactly how their collaborations with and contributions to SIR and SIR Foundation are advancing the specialty and improving patients’ lives. They are seeking meaningful ways to dialogue with every IR, whether in SIR leadership or working in the trenches. And (not surprisingly), we heard how the new health care environment has caused introspection and driven their need for more agile business models.

The society recognized these insights from industry as an opportunity to change the way we approach corporate relations—for as the ground continues to shift under all our feet, there is strength and balance to be found in unity of voice and effort.

In fall of last year SIR introduced its new Corporate Ambassador Program (CAP). Through a CAP Physician Delegate Task Force led by James Benenati, M.D., FSIR, the program connects corporate supporters directly with delegates to create longer, stronger relationships and provides a high-impact, high-recognition path for companies that want to invest in IR. Through CAP, industry partners are afforded more insight into what their support of SIR and SIR Foundation accomplishes; faster, more direct communication with the IR community; and broader acknowledgment of the positive impact of their investment in IR.

CAP replaces the traditional corporate membership model with a consolidated, tiered approach, and draws across all of the society’s and foundation’s assets to increase industry’s access to and visibility among the IR community. It is predicated on the idea of creating value for IR together across the spectrum of education, advocacy, research, evidence building, and engagement—areas where our corporate supporters clearly share SIR and SIR Foundation’s interest in advancement.  

We are still in the early throes of introducing the program and will identify our 2015 supporters at SIR 2015 in Atlanta. However, several CAP commitments have already been made by many of the society’s longtime, top supporters who are enthusiastic about the transparency and ease of access and communication upon which the program is built. There is also ample opportunity within CAP for companies with whom we have newer relationships, or whose investment may be more limited.

SIR is responding to the health care marketplace’s need for more agility and value in IR. Just as IRs are advancing medical practice by developing, testing and implementing breakthrough treatments, SIR and SIR Foundation remain committed to partnerships that nurture innovative thinking and create a stronger sense of mutual engagement. We look forward to new horizons that come with the stable funding and direct dialogue that CAP affords. I hope you will visit or contact me to learn more.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Possibilities to Realities

By Stephen T. Kee, MD, MMM, FSIR
Chair, SIR Foundation

As you’ve read over the past several months in member communications, the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) will be introducing a new and enhanced brand identity in 2015—so that both the society and SIR Foundation may better communicate the value and limitless potential of image-guided therapy. You can read more about this exciting initiative in the below posts from SIR President James B. Spies, MD, MPH, FSIR, and SIR Executive Director Susan E. Sedory Holzer, MA, CAE. 

Our research has shown that that SIR and SIR Foundation must be seen more distinctly as essential, expert resources for IR—not only with our members but with health care decision-makers, influencers and consumers, who are shaping the new health care landscape in which we work and live.

SIR Foundation will continue to advance the clinical needs of IR by specializing in developing investigators trained in conducting basic and clinical trials research and supporting innovative treatments delivered through image-guided techniques. We have initiated a new program structure that proactively fosters research priorities in the areas of clinical research, research policy and research education. These priority areas drive our program, grant-making and fundraising decisions.

As 2014 comes to a close, I wanted to share some specific successes. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been executed between SIR and the American College of Radiology (ACR) to begin building an IR registry database under the National Radiology Data Registry (NR DR). ACR has begun building the IR registry database, and you’ll be hearing more about this exciting development throughout next year. The foundation hosted a research consensus panel that proposed 13 new Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) measures—6 of which are now on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Measures Under Consideration (MUC) list—a vital step toward systematic data collection. Medical students around the nation are being introduced to IR through our research internships and awards. Our premier grants program continues to grow in prominence, adding several new awards this year. In 2015 and beyond, we will continue to articulate how the foundation is the premier scientific organization dedicated to advancing IR through research.

As always, these achievements are only possible with your support. You enable SIR Foundation’s work of developing, testing and implementing breakthrough medical treatments. You continue to turn possibilities into realities.

This is a very exciting time as SIR and SIR Foundation prepare to better communicate the unique strengths and limitless potential of IR. You will soon hear more about our branding assessment and its impact on the external voice and face of the SIR and SIR Foundation. I look forward to hearing what you think about our branding and SIR Foundation initiatives.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

We’re Listening

By James B. Spies, MD, MPH, FSIR
SIR 2014–15 President

You’re not listening to me! How often will we say (or even hear) those words over our lifetime?

My hope is that you won’t need to use those frustrating words when talking about SIR. When it comes to your society, its mission, vision, and educational, advocacy, awareness and research efforts, we listen to our essential audience—you. This type of listening doesn’t require an advanced degree in espionage; it requires SIR to be present for you.

Your opinions matter—whether in addressing your specific needs to advancing a better understanding of IR and its positive impact on patient care. SIR’s cadre of volunteer physicians are developing data registries to meet the quality monitoring needs of you and your patients; adopting program requirements for the IR Residency and transitioning our current programs to that new standard; initiating the PRESERVE trial to study the safety and effectiveness of IVC filters currently in use in this country; and ensuring that policy makers understand the unique benefits of IR while addressing barriers in coding and payment.

In addition, we have conducted an SIR Foundation research consensus panel to provide education and insight on the process of developing performance measures relevant to IR practices; submitted 13 performance measures to CMS for review and possible addition to the 2015 measures under consideration; provided a comment letter to FDA regarding laparoscopic morcellation of fibroids and the risk of missed malignancy, highlighting the need for women with symptomatic fibroids to know about all treatment options and related risks; identified member needs related to our strategic plan and defended coverage of endovascular procedures for intracranial arterial disease with a private insurance carrier. Beyond these efforts, we are completing a new blueprint for education, exploring new methods of providing member services and began a discussion on new innovative models of practice. These are but a few instances of where we listened and acted on your behalf.

As part of our brand update process (detailed by Executive Director Sue Holzer in “Strengthening Our Story”)—we held in-depth interviews with numerous members to understand what you think about and hope for the Society, the Foundation and the specialty. What we learned was insightful, sometimes surprising and critical in defining what we’re known for, what individuals expect from us and how we can develop new ways of reaching out to key audiences.

You believe, and rightfully so, that IR showcases the very best of today’s medicine—bringing together doctor insight, professional expertise and advanced image-guided technology to solve the toughest medical problems with less risk and minimal discomfort for patients. You see the society as inclusive and critical in supporting innovation, furthering the profession and offering essential training. You value creativity, patient interaction and collaboration. While you are delivering integrated care, perception lingers among other medical professionals that we may simply be proceduralists. This is for us to address, as a member put it this way, “We have a bit of an identity crisis.”

We also listened to the many important audiences that influence our specialty. As a result of the assessment, our new brand will enable us to position SIR as the indispensable expert resource for the field and SIR Foundation as the premier scientific body dedicated to advancing IR through research. You’ll hear more about how we are fortifying “who” we are in the coming months.

I look forward to hearing what you think about any of these initiatives.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Strengthening our story

By Susan E. Sedory Holzer, MA, CAE
SIR Executive Director

Next year, SIR will introduce a new and enhanced brand identity to our members and the world. As we prepare for that, I wanted to share with you all of the thinking and work that has brought us to this very exciting point in time.

Increasing awareness of interventional radiology is one of the five goals in SIR’s strategic plan for being the first choice for image-guided therapy. We believe this won’t happen unless SIR and SIR Foundation are more distinctly seen as essential, expert resources for IRnot just in the eyes of our members—but among the health care decision-makers, influencers and consumers who are shaping the new health care landscape in which we work and live.

In winter 2013, the society embarked on a brand assessment with a global public relations firm with offices in Washington D.C., to evaluate perceptions of IR and critically assess the SIR and SIR Foundation brands. Leveraging the 2013 Annual Scientific Meeting, we conducted in-depth interviews with numerous members—volunteers, established practitioners, trainees, medical students, corporate partners—about SIR, SIR Foundation and the way we communicate about our specialty. Follow-up interviews were conducted with more members and with policy-makers, hospital administrators, referring physicians and patients to further hone our understanding of what makes IR, SIR and SIR Foundation unique.

The assessment yielded valuable insights for improving our messaging amid the changing environment.
  •  As a society and a specialty, we must be more audience-centric in our communications. Each of the many different audiences important to our specialty should understand our value in terms that matter to them, not just in terms of the treatments we provide.
  • There must be a clarion call to focus on collaboration, not competition. Even when the stakes and turf wars are at their highest, SIR can gain from collaborating with other organizations to shape the expansion of IR into new clinical areas and patient teams and solidify ourselves as the embedded expert to these organizations.
  • We must show how the very essence of IR is agile and modern. Siloed specialties are old-fashioned and expensive; hospitals, insurers and patients want physicians who are flexible and agile. SIR is uniquely positioned to show how IR delivers on the very things modern medicine asks for: better outcomes, less burden on the patient and innovative use of technology with clear patient benefit.
  • We need to portray SIR and SIR Foundation as distinct but complementary organizations working in service of IR.  Our members are excited about the impact of research on the specialty, but few are clear about the difference in missions between the two organizations or what their dues fund. Highlighting the role of SIR Foundation-funded research reinforces the sustained vision of SIR Foundation and its investment potential for members, patients and other key audiences.
Interventional radiology has provided innovative care for patients for more than 40 years, and in that time, SIR has changed our name once and our logo twice. We have never stopped defining the future of medicine and adapting to the ever-evolving health care landscape. Now—perhaps more than ever—we are guided by the inspiration and promise of IR’s limitless potential. The time has come to tell our story confidently and compellingly in everything we do.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts and comments on strengthening our story.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Strategic Thinking … and Action

By James B. Spies, M.D., MPH, FSIR
SIR 2014–15 President

Advancing a better understanding of both the limitless potential of interventional radiology and its positive impact on patient care will be a main focus during my term as president.

We are very fortunate to have a solid strategic plan guiding our Society and the Foundation toward the ultimate vision of making interventional radiology the first choice in image-guided therapy.  The plan was forged through a highly collaborative process that involved the many voices of IR and considered the many facets of our specialty.

At a tactical level, SIR and the SIR Foundation will continue to organize their efforts around these five key goals: clinical practice, outcomes data, revenue growth, awareness of IR and innovation. As president, my goal is to guide the Society in building on the incredible work that has been done to date across all of these areas. 

Specifically, I am committed to helping SIR make significant progress with these critical initiatives.
  • Developing data registries to meet the quality monitoring needs of members and your patients: We have made great strides in the past year and will be testing systems in the coming year.
  • Adopting program requirements for the IR/DR pathway and transitioning our current programs to that new standard: SIR fought hard to bring about ABMS approval and enthusiastically supports the changes that are coming in practice and in IR residency training. The program’s implementation will take time, and SIR is committed to ensuring its success. SIR will continue to need your support—and your feedback—as the training program unfolds.
  • Starting the PRESERVE trial to study the safety and effectiveness of IVC filters currently in use in this country: Working with the Society for Vascular Surgery, our goal is to ensure the safest practice for patients in our efforts to prevent pulmonary embolus.
  • Completing a review of our educational efforts and Annual Scientific Meeting: Our intent is to improve both to better meet your needs in this challenging health care environment.
  • Enacting branding initiatives for SIR and SIRF: In another step toward achieving our vision of being the first choice for image-guided treatments we will use coordinated activities to increase awareness among key decision-makers about what IR is, does and achieves; to position SIR as the indispensible expert resource for the specialty; and to show SIR Foundation as the premier scientific body dedicated to advancing IR through research.
This is a very exciting time as we continue to clarify our brand so that we may better articulate the unique strengths and limitless potential of IR. You will hear more about branding this year and its impact on the external voice and face of the SIR and SIR Foundation.

Strategy and goals alone do not bring the Society closer to its envisioned future. That only happens when governing—the work of the Executive Council—becomes a pro-active process.  Another goal of mine is to change our governing operations to focus more on our strategic plan and better monitor the efforts and communications of all divisions of SIR. What does this mean? By effectively transitioning our current model to a new one that leverages focused, proactive planning, greater role clarity and year-round communication, strategy and governing will work even better together—smarter and more efficiently—for you and for IR.

It is an honor to serve as your president. At March’s successful Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego, we shared ideas with friends and colleagues—all under the theme of “Convergence.” This appropriate theme speaks to IR’s multidimensional nature in daily practice and as a global specialty. It also describes SIR’s collective and confident actions—with you, with IR and with the Society and SIR Foundation. I’ve been involved with SIR for my entire professional life, and I encourage you to volunteer with the Society. Together, we will be able to continue our forward momentum, enhancing our programs to ensure the growth of the specialty, SIR and SIR Foundation.