Friday Night Lights: An AHRA Dallas Area Meeting


Curt-BushBy Curtis R. Bush, FACHE, MBA, CRA

On April 29, nearly 50 imaging leaders and healthcare professionals gathered at the Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center on the campus of Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas for food, fellowship, and education. This event was generously sponsored by Hitachi, and I’d like to give a special thank you to Meagan Howard for her diligent coordination and for the delicious food.

The event kicked off at 3:00 PM with a welcome to all attendees, including a few housekeeping items. Angie McDonald, MSRS, CRA, RT, FAHRA then gave a brief presentation on the benefits of AHRA membership and her personal testimonial on how she became involved with the organization. Her presentation included a history of AHRA from its humble beginnings, to the education and benefits AHRA has provided to its members as it has grown over the years. She discussed opportunities to become involved, the CRA credential and its importance, and finished with a “plug” for the Annual Meeting this summer in Nashville.

The first educational presentation was sponsored by Hitachi, and given by Jef Williams from Ascendian Healthcare Consulting. Jef spoke about the challenges of big data and the steps necessary to integrate and consolidate it into meaningful formats. He talked about how value can be defined in data management systems, the importance of selecting the right people to be on the team, and the importance of understanding what the data actually means to make important decisions.

The second presenter was Willis Hassel, MSN, RN, RCIS, the director of cardiology at The Heart Hospital – Baylor, Plano, and Denton. While many imaging departments are separate from Cardiology, we cross over in many areas. Willis’ presentation was on the different testing and screening methods used to identify sudden cardiac death in pediatric athletes. He spoke about how this is often overlooked because it is not seen as a common disease; however, the statistics he provided show that this may be a larger problem than we realize in the United States. Other countries provide screening for young athletes, and the use of imaging has been shown to assist in identifying children with defects that can lead to sudden cardiac death. In the United States there is still some debate over the risks and benefits of an all-out screening effort like the ones used in other countries.

Next to present were Pierre Niepel, MBA, PhD and Thomas Haskins, BSRT. The duo spoke about the regulatory and workflow benefits of converting from computed radiography (CR) to digital radiography (DR). As we have all become familiar with, imaging facilities will be facing a penalty beginning in 2017 for utilizing analog radiography systems, and beginning in 2018 for using CR rather than DR. This will obviously impact financial performance. The presenters also discussed how the increase in efficiency by using DR over CR will not only improve production and eliminate the risk of being penalized; it will provide better images of the patients.

Angela Bruner, PhD, DABR, Director of Medical Physics for Baylor Scott & White – North Texas Division, was the next presenter. Angela discussed the regulations surrounding radiation dose tracking for CT and fluoroscopy exams. She provided examples of what tools are used at some of the facilities she works with, along with the pros and cons of some reports. She finished by showing the attendees some different systems that she has had the opportunity to see and/or work with from different vendors, with some things to look for in a dose tracking repository from a regulatory standpoint.

The final presenter of the evening was Stephan Lopez, FAHRA, MS, RT(R). Stephan is the corporate director of radiology for Baylor Scott & White – North Texas Division. He presented on the development, design, and installation of imaging equipment. He presented different scenarios for vendor selection and equipment choices based on community needs and organizational strategies. He also provided some tools to use for project planning and gave attendees tips on how to include radiation integrity reporting and testing, as well as some tactics and strategies to utilize while negotiating with vendors. He finished by reviewing room layouts and some important and often overlooked items that occur during planning and installation.

The event was well attended, and those attendees that stayed for the entire event received five hours of continuing education credits. Thank you to all who attended, to the presenters, and to Hitachi for sponsoring our meeting. I’d also like to give a shout out to Jillian Nanof on the AHRA staff for assisting with the coordination for this event.

I want to wish good luck to all of the CRA candidates who will be sitting for the exam this month, and I hope to see everyone in Nashville later this summer!


Curtis R. Bush, FACHE, MBA, CRA is the director of imaging services at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX. He can be reached at curbnroxy@gmail.com.

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