Forming a Local AHRA Group

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Cerdena, Ernesto Daniel-DiPaola2By Ernesto A. Cerdena, CRA, FAHRA and Daniel DiPaola, CRA

February 2014—The landscape of medical imaging during this turbulent economy appears to shift on a daily basis. Indeed, in the era of the Affordable Care Act, sustainable and thriving operations are paramount to radiology managers. Whether it is analytics, productivity, ICD-10 deployment, or patient centered philosophy implementation, imaging leaders across the country face similar competing priorities. Survival under these conditions can be facilitated by reaching out to peers.

The AHRA Northeast Group held its inaugural local meeting in January of 2011. At that time the group was calling itself the AHRA Hudson Valley Group. The primary goal of the meeting was to invite imaging leaders from various counties of the Hudson Valley region for networking opportunities. The meeting was held at OrangeRegionalMedicalCenter. Its success was made possible through the collaboration of administrators from a few hospitals in the area. The group was led by Ernie Cerdena and also included Gene Bernieri, Michael Glennon, Vivian Ruscitto, Rhonda Makoske, Becky King, and Dan Dipaola.

All attendees agreed that the meeting provided excellent opportunities for networking with peers and vendors alike. At the first meeting, nearly 50 attendees enjoyed the educational experience, camaraderie, and time spent with their friends in the industry. Longtime attendee John P. Halligan, CRA of Hudson Valley Imaging, had this to say about the meetings:

“I find attending the local New York AHRA meetings to be invaluable. I always walk away with something positive that ultimately enhances my facility. I also really enjoy the chance to meet up with people who not only understand the challenges I face every day, but are always more than willing to share their experiences and solutions.”

The formalization of our local group’s final name, the AHRA Northeast Group, was realized with a unique purpose of bringing our community together at a regional level. This will serve as the catalyst towards a dynamic forum that could facilitate communication and education between radiology leaders within the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area as well as neighboring states.

Establishing a local AHRA group can provide an array of meaningful benefits to all members. These opportunities include networking, CE credits, vendor interactions, best practices, billing questions, inspection related questions, or just simply sharing notes. Here are nine steps we’d recommend if you want to form a local group:

  1. Form a committee
  2. Locate potential members
  3. Pick a date
  4. Pick a location
  5. Select a speaker
  6. Organize CE credits
  7. Distribute  information to potential attendees, including registration
  8. Organize refreshments
  9. Secure vendor sponsorship

The AHRA staff can help you with this process. If you’re interested in setting up a local meeting, contact the AHRA office, and they will be able to walk you through the process and answer any of your questions.

In order to compile a list of fellow radiology administrators to invite, one effective technique is to reach out to your vendors. The vendors who service your department can provide a list of radiology department managers throughout their sales region and beyond. We asked Mathew Anthony, an Account Executive from Siemens Healthcare, to tell us about his experience with the group from a vendor’s perspective:

“As the Siemens Account Executive for the Hudson Valley for the past 3 years, the AHRA Hudson Valley meetings have been vital to the success of Siemens and are viewed as a must attend event not only by myself but also by Siemens management at all levels.

Sponsoring and attending an AHRA local meeting allows you great access to your current and potential customers. In my opinion, for anyone or any company that is given the chance to provide sponsorship for an AHRA meeting, I would highly recommend that you jump at the offer immediately.  The nominal fees for sponsorship pale in comparison to the return on investment that you will receive in both time savings and awareness of your products.”

Social networking sites can also be extremely useful in locating interested members. You can form an online group on LinkedIn, MeetUp, or Facebook. You’ll be the owner and manager of any group you create, but you can also assign other members to be managers or moderators.

To read more about setting up a local are meeting or forming a local group, visit the About Area Meetings page on the AHRA website. One final tip we have for ensuring success after a meeting and maintaining interest for future meetings is to send out a SurveyMonkey after your meeting to pulse the membership’s concerns and also to identify the important priorities for discussion at future meetings. Good luck!

Ernesto A. Cerdena, CRA, FAHRA is the director of imaging services at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, NY. He can be reached at

Daniel DiPaola, CRA is chief technologist at The Center for Diagnostic Imaging, Nyack Hospital, Nyack, NY. He can be reached at

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