Interventional radiology has come a long way in the last decade to become an essential specialty within modern medical practice. Despite this achievement, there is still relatively low public awareness about IR and the benefits it can provide. It is therefore essential for the IR community to work together to conduct outreach and spread the world to the general public, patients, medical students and trainees as well as other medical specialists about all of interventional radiology’s amazing possibilities
Hear from some CIRSE group members
National and international societies can play an important role in increasing public awareness on a large scale. We talked to some of CIRSE’s group members about patient awareness in their country/region and how their societies are conducting outreach.
Click on the countries below to see brief statements from some of CIRSE’s group members. For more information, please visit the individual society’s website.
“In Portugal doctors, be they general practitioners, oncologists or other specialists, inform patients about their treatment options and refer them to specialised hospitals for treatment. Also, there is a lot of treatment information that appears on social media in the form of advertising or interviews. It is becoming common for patients to search the internet for our treatment options. Therefore, private hospitals are more advanced in promoting IR procedures than public ones. This is also something that APRI might help redress.”
Dr. Belarmino Gonçalves, President, the Portuguese Association of Interventional Radiology (APRI)
“We do not have representative empirical data on this topic. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that only a minority of the general population is aware of interventional radiology procedures. A possible reason for this is that other medical disciplines have more direct access to patients. Radiology is primarily perceived as a diagnostic discipline by patients in Germany.
Most of our activities (homepage, newsletters, scientific conferences, workshops, etc.) focus on the interventional radiology community and associated medical disciplines. A notable exception is an information brochure about interventional radiology that was published in 2020 and is explicitly targeted at patients and referring physicians. The brochure is available in print and online versions (https://www.degir.de/de-DE/7049/informationsbroschuere-interventionsradiologie/).
We are planning a complete relaunch of the society homepage in 2021. As part of this process we would like to produce patient-targeted material about interventional radiology procedures and make it available online (both in text and video formats). We will also continue to promote and distribute the above-mentioned information brochure. Besides, scientific meetings or other events (both in the real and the digital world) could be used to get into direct contact with patients and the general public.”
Dr Kerstin Westphalen, Head of the Public Relations Steering Group, on behalf of the Executive Board of the German Society for Interventional Radiology and Minimally Invasive Therapy (DeGIR).
“JSIR has produced many pamphlets, and, recently, we attended an elementary school fair with young children aged 7-12. While there, we showed them what an interventional procedure is and how to perform that in simple terms as a type of game with a needle and a balloon using ultrasound guidance. We are always looking for chances to introduce IR to adults as well as children, and to patients and the patient’s family by using mass communication like newspapers or magazines.”
Prof. Yasuaki Arai, Past President of the Japanese Society of Interventional Radiology (JSIR)
“Interventional radiologists in Lithuania don’t have direct contact with patients, so they are mostly informed about IR treatment possibilities by referring physicians. Sadly, sometimes patients do not receive all the necessary information, but that happens less and less. Our goal is to collaborate with various specialty societies in Lithuania, participate in their events and spread word about IR treatment possibilities. LIRA has a plan to launch a website with dedicated pages for both medical specialists and patients. Also, we are planning to provide day hospital and outpatient IR services in Lithuania, which, I believe, will provide patients with better knowledge about interventional radiology and all the possibilities of minimally invasive treatments for various diseases.”
Assoc.Prof. Rytis Stasys Kaupas, President of the Lithuanian Association of Interventional Radiology (LIRA)
“Each medical institution has their own means to inform patients regarding the available IR, which vary according to the level of awareness of the clinicians affiliated to the hospital as well. As a specialty that heavily relies on the referral system, patient knowledge of IR procedures ultimately falls on the clinician’s recommendation and referral to their IR of choice. Needless to say, the general population in the Philippines is largely unaware of IR as specialty, even in this digital age where any lay person can simply Google any disease just by swiping on their smartphone. This is an avenue for IR to grow and reach out to people for awareness. We just need to give people the information in a way that they can access and understand easily. That’s what the internet and multimedia are for. They’re very powerful tools that can help all of our patients learn more about IR and what we can do for them.”
Dr. Dennis Villanueva, President, The Philippine Society of Vascular and Interventional Radiology (PSVIR)
Generally people are not aware of interventional radiology in Spain. Some tactics SERVEI has taken to increase awareness among the general population include:
- To increase its social media presence (specific pathologies and IR procedures)
- To write press releases
- To implement search engine optimisation
- To update its patient section website
- To create an IR doctor finder on its website
In order to spread the word among other physicians, SERVEI works:
- To promote IR presence in the multidisciplinary clinical committees
- To take part in webinars and congresses organised by other societies
- To publish a monthly case report at our website and social media
- To spread the membership activities and scientific awards
- To spread our fellowship programme addressed to residents
- To spread information among medical students and to foster direct communication channels
Some projects that could be undertaken in the future include:
- Achieving IR news in the mass media
- Fostering our YouTube channel
- Developing media resources addressed to patients about pathologies and IR procedures
- Fostering and updating of our patient section website
The general population in Colombia does not know the specialty of interventional radiology, unless it has received some treatment from the specialty. The other specialties do know us and know our scope, but due to conflicts of interest many times they do not refer their patients to us since doing so would affect their financial income.
To promote knowledge of IR, many interventional radiologists are within the Colombian association of radiology, which has a general information program for patients through social networks and a limb rescue program is being developed to reduce amputations called “Bringing Life to Your Feet”.
We need more effective publicity that the general population knows the benefits and advantages of interventional radiology vs other specialties, and we need massive diffusion networks through social networks to be known by the ordinary citizen.
We plan to develop programmes where the population and physicians in general are made aware of the benefits of embolization of uterine fibroids, prostate and vascular access, among others. Likewise, to form the Colombian society of interventional radiology for greater diffusion and to make a census in the country of the number of interventional radiologists who are practicing in the national territory.
In some Central American countries there is a presence of one or two interventional radiologists in the whole country. The country with the highest representation of the specialty is Panama. Therefore, the knowledge of the general population is little. However, among medical societies little by little the importance of the specialty has been recognized.
To increase knowledge of IR, a segment on interventional radiology has been incorporated into the radiology residency program and we try to ensure participation in seminars, lectures in other societies, participation in multidisciplinary sessions.
Just a 10% of the general population know about interventional radiology. Even other medical specialities aren’t aware of our speciality.
We recently founded a medical society in part to help increase knowledge of the specialty. We promoted interventional radiologists through our website according the area where is needed. Our skills are promoted by the companies that work with us.
Some future projects we plan to work on are:
- Conferences to general physicians
- Webinars and conferences to general population to promote IR procedures
- Presentations or articles in social media, including television
“The re-launch of the national society’s website brings the latest information on interventional radiology techniques to the public. Available in both Romanian and English, it facilitates access to the most accurate information on procedures, as well as on physicians and centres where these procedures can be performed.”
Prof. Univ. Dr. Gheorghe Iana, president of The Neuroradiology and Interventional Radiology Society of Romania (SNRIR)