California sun, speakers draw conference attendees from around the nation

By Aine Cryts

It’s at the annual meeting that the Association for Medical Imaging Management (AHRA) really shines, says Jason Newmark, the association’s president. Also shining brightly? The Southern California sun welcoming attendees to the AHRA 2017 Annual Meeting, which takes place in Anaheim from July 9-12.

Established in 1973, AHRA is the professional organization representing management at all levels of hospital imaging departments and freestanding imaging centers in the United States and around the world.

Including attendees and vendors, Newmark expects more than 1,000 people at this year’s annual meeting. Supervisors of modalities, managers, directors of imaging, and directors of multiple service lines—such as lab or other ancillary services—are expected to attend. And Newmark notes that it’s increasingly common for the annual event to attract attendees at the vice president-level.

Content-Driven Focus

Rather than scheduling lengthy educational sessions, AHRA officials have streamlined content. In fact, each session at the AHRA Annual Meeting is only about an hour—since, Newmark says, “everyone can stay focused for an hour.” While some of the breakout sessions are of longer duration, Newmark is confident that the “giant breadth of different topics” will be of great interest to attendees.

The annual meeting’s basic track includes sessions on topics as varied as negotiation and project management, managerial communication, and introductions to imaging and asset management.

Attendees can also learn about managing patient radiation dose and image quality in CT, AHRA regulatory affairs updates, preventing patient injuries in MRI, optimizing breast cancer detection, and the inform/insurance laws and educational tools associated with breast density.

What’s more, attendees will have access to a CRA Exam workshop and exhibitor symposiums on clinical decision-support requirements for medical imaging, neuroimaging of the pediatric population, and addressing musculoskeletal pathologies, among other topics.

How do AHRA officials come up with such relevant content? In a word: preparation.

The association surveys its approximately 5,500-person-strong membership every six months in order to develop sessions that appeal to them. Newmark adds that he and his team members also monitor blogs and online forums to create such content. Beyond the annual meeting, AHRA responds to members’ educational needs by producing webinars or publishing articles on topics such as clinical decision support, regulatory affairs, and quality improvement throughout the year.

No doubt AHRA officials also considered members’ wants when selecting the three keynote speakers for the conference. Topping the roster of speakers is Chris Blackmore, who will give a speech about “The Magic of Customer Service.” According to AHRA officials, Blackmore combines a “hilarious style of presentation and amazing magic” to “explain the process of customer relations made famous by the most prestigious and successful business brands in the world.” In other words, don’t miss out.

Also at the podium will be Jake Poore, founder and president of Integrated Loyalty Systems, with a keynote presentation titled, “The Leader’s Role in Building and Sustaining Exceptional Patient Experiences.”

It’s a subject Poore is well-versed in, as he has spent nearly 20 years helping to recruit, hire, train, and align the Walt Disney World Company’s 65,000 employees toward “creating memorable experiences for individuals—not transactions for the masses.”

Furthermore, in her keynote presentation, Shari Harley will discuss “How to Say Anything to Anyone: Setting Expectations for Powerful Working Relationships.” Harley is the founder and president of Candid Culture, where she helps create a safe haven for employees, managers, and clients to speak honestly.

Location, Location, Location

Newmark says the annual meeting’s location in Anaheim—which is the home of Disneyland Park—is driving attendance to the conference. Another driver is his organization’s emphasis on helping members become better leaders. Likely, the good weather helps, too; Anaheim residents enjoy temperatures as high as 87° and as low as 65° each July.

Last year’s AHRA annual conference was held in Nashville, Tenn., and the organization uses a collaborative process to determine the location of the event each year—a method that helps officials accommodate members from varying parts of the United States.

Newmark reveals that registration numbers are tracking even higher than they were this time last year, with the vendor hall filled months ago. He contrasts the AHRA Annual Meeting with larger industry events by highlighting its less formal atmosphere, “where it’s easier to have a true interaction and not need to set up meeting times [with vendors],” he adds.

It’s because of these types of meetings that attendees and vendors can have “deeper-dive discussions” about the types of technologies on display in the exhibit hall. And it will be impossible for them to miss out on such innovations since attendees will stroll through the exhibit hall each day when they travel to the back of the area for lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Why Attend AHRA 2017?

With the need to invest in capital equipment and the new requirements placed on healthcare institutions transitioning to value-based care, it can be difficult to find money in the budget to send employees to events such as the AHRA Annual Meeting, Newmark acknowledges. Even so, he says, the benefits organizations will reap from sending employees to this conference will be numerous.

“You’re going to have a chance to go offsite and be around experts in your field around the country, where you can share your concerns and challenges and best practices to take home,” Newmark says. “These are tangible things that will give you a broad base. Attendees will be operational leaders like you, who face the same challenges. AHRA allows you to have a really meaningful dialogue [with your peers].”

In addition, there are opportunities to volunteer, present, or write at AHRA—and some scholorships are available to help with attendees’ travel expenses.

While Newmark talks up the opportunity to rest and recharge at the annual meeting, he also describes the event as “super fun” and a “great way to great inspired by other attendees and our keynote speakers.” Furthermore, he says AHRA is a “tremendously open and friendly” organization—much more so than any other association he’s been involved with. After all, members have an opportunity to learn on an ongoing basis, have a seat at the table on regulatory matters, and become better leaders, he adds.

And such benefits will be on full display at the AHRA 2017 Annual Meeting. See you in Anaheim!

Aine Cryts is a contributing writer for 24×7 Magazine. For more information, contact chief editor Keri Forsythe-Stephens at kstephens@medqor.com.