Inside the Interventional Radiology Specialty
Recognition of interventional radiologists as more than a subspecialty could increase patients' and physicians' awareness of these pioneers of minimally invasive procedures, especially in treating uterine fibroids.
This article first appeared in the November 2014 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
Interventional radiologists pioneered the use of minimally invasive surgery, now a widespread technique for numerous procedures ranging from cosmetic to cardiology. But because interventional radiology has historically been a medical subspecialty, patients and fellow physicians often thought of an interventional radiologist as the person who read the x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans. As IRs have developed more clinically significant procedures, particularly in oncology, they have become a more visible and significant clinical addition to care teams. In 2012, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) elevated the subspecialty to a primary medical specialty.
But in healthcare, change moves at a snail's pace and IRs are still fighting—two years later—to be recognized alongside their fellow physicians.
"It's difficult for patients, even referring physicians, to see us as admitting clinical physicians," says Eric Wang, MD, one of 16 interventional radiologists at Charlotte (North Carolina) Radiology, a large independent practice. Wang just finished up a two-year rotation as chief of vascular and interventional specialists at Charlotte Radiology and for the past four years has been head of the practice's marketing committee, which has become an important component in identifying clinically relevant and profitable IR service lines.