It’s called the “paradox of globalization”—that our world shrinks as our reach grows—and the phenomenon is as applicable to interventional radiology as it is to computers, the economy and entertainment, according to Brian F. Stainken, MD, FSIR.
“For example, it starts to become less about my country and more about my region,” said Dr. Stainken, who served as co-moderator of “Global Perspectives in Interventional Radiology” during Monday’s general session. “Certainly patients start to reasonably expect the same solutions anywhere in the world. They can read about a patient in New York City and be in South America and expect the same sort of care and the same sort of results from a procedure.”
Joining Dr. Stainken as co-moderators were SIR President James B. Spies, MD, MPH, FSIR, and SIR Executive Director Susan E. Sedory-Holzer, MA, CAE.
Dr. Stainken said the session was an important first for an SIR meeting—a response to the growing recognition that interventional radiology is gaining a foothold in other countries as it’s becoming more established in places like the United States, Europe, Japan and South Korea.
The annual meeting, he said, is the perfect place to begin the conversation about how interventional radiology can help improve care globally and to begin identifying and addressing challenges.
“IR is not just a national breakthrough specialty that’s offering novel solutions. It is increasingly accepted in the standard of care across the breadth of medicine,” he said. “The new approaches that we have innovated offer unique opportunities in developing economies and in countries that are just starting to explore IR.”
A significant challenge, Dr. Stainken said, has to do with the variances in rules governing devices from country to country. That was the subject of the first of three panel discussions during the session.
“With each country having its own regulatory hierarchy, and various trade barriers, and then issues with insurance and reimbursement, it can be a real challenge for IR in certain countries around the world to gain access to devices,” he said.
The panel discussion, Dr. Stainken added, served as a “brainstorming session,” for the exchange of novel ideas, solutions, and approaches to getting devices into the hands of interventional radiologists around the world.
Another paradox, he said, is that many of the countries with the most limited amounts of money to spend on health care also present some of the greatest opportunities and have the greatest need for interventional radiology.
The following panel discussion focused on the recruitment of women into the field of interventional radiology.
“IR’s never been about the conventional approach, and we know there are many talented and interested women out there looking for a career that will offer them reward,” Dr. Stainken said. “The best thing in the world that could happen is that, after this session, more women around the world say, ‘Maybe I will take a serious look at IR.’ That’s what we want.”
The session concluded with a discussion on the issue of maintaining excellence while delivering care worldwide.
Across much of the world, Dr. Stainken said, there are wide variances in training systems in place, including in some countries where there is no certification system at all for interventional radiology.
“The definitions of IR are all over the place. To best serve our specialty, we need to explore how we can work to better define what exactly makes a person an interventional radiologist,” he said. “We all want to be the best we can possibly be and, wherever we’re delivering care around the world, it should be the best quality care.”