The governing boards of the American College of Radiology (ACR; Reston, Virginia) and the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS; Leesburg, Virginia) have agreed to combine forces. The groups say the integration would leverage the strengths of each organization and provide the potential for enhanced service to radiologists and medical physicists seeking continuing medical education, quality and safety programs and a "strong voice" in Washington.

The agreement is subject to approval by the ARRS membership, expected in April. If approved, the new framework will take effect July 1. According to the organizations, the move would establish a framework for the two groups to realize operational efficiency, eliminate redundancies, and improve access to important educational content while maintaining the rich traditions and cultures of each.

Shawn Farley, an ACR spokesman, told Medical Device Daily that the two organizations have "batted about" the idea of combining forces for the last few years, particularly in the education arena.

"There were certain things that Roentgen Ray did very well and certain things that ACR did very well ... together we could get better results than the sum of the parts," Farley said.

If the agreement is approved, the educational missions of ARRS and ACR will be integrated, with ARRS taking the lead in developing and delivering scientific and educational programs for members of both organizations. ACR said it would focus its strengths in the areas of government advocacy, economics and health policy, quality and safety, and clinical research.

Susan Brown Cappitelli, executive director of the ARRS, told MDD that the organizations would be working out the details over the next several months. So far, she said, the idea has been well received by members. Of the members' comments the ARRS has received since the agreement went public late last week, she said, "100% of them are positive."

Not that the positive feedback has come as a surprise. Cappitelli said she has been with the ARRS for 18 years and has seen "many, many members' surveys" from which she has noticed a constant theme among the membership – they want one point of service for everything they need. "Make it easy for us, make it streamlined, make it simple ... and this speaks to that need," Cappitelli said.

Farley also noted that many of the doctors who serve in a leadership capacity at Roentgen Ray have also served in leadership roles in ACR and vice-versa.

"The membership of Roentgen Ray still have to approve this move, and we're optimistic of course that they are going to do so, but that's the last remaining aspect, the last remaining challenge if you will," Farley said. "Upon approval, this is really going to be a good thing for radiologists and medical physicists and not only them but their patients ... make the members better doctors, better physicists and that translates to better care."

The ACR represents roughly 32,000 members, including radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists, interventional radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians. The 20,000 member ARRS says it is the oldest radiology society in the U.S. and that it has been a forum for progress in radiology since shortly after the discovery of the X-ray.

Cappitelli also told MDD that the organizations have considered the possibility of combining for a number of years "and it all centers around the belief that the two missions are very compatible." She said radiologists tend to look to the ACR for leadership in areas such as government advocacy, quality and safety, and clinical research while they look to the ARRS for education.

"The guiding principle of the affiliation is to build on the complementary strengths of both organizations while adding value to the membership," said John Crowe, ARRS president.

According to the organizations, members of both can expect uninterrupted access to the offerings that they have previously received as members of their respective groups. Both governing boards will continue their respective roles and responsibilities with cross representation on each board.

"ACR and ARRS have worked collaboratively for years, and this bold step will serve to strengthen and unify our efforts even further," said James Thrall, MD, chair of the ACR board of chancellors.