Optimization is one of the key concepts of radiation protection in medical imaging. In practice, it involves compromising between the image quality and dose to the patient; the dose should not be higher than necessary to achieve an image quality (or diagnostic information) needed for the clinical task. Monitoring patient dose is a key requirement toward optimization. The concept of diagnostic reference level (DRL) was introduced by the International Commission on Radiological Protection as a practical tool for optimization. Unfortunately, this concept has not been applied consistently worldwide. To review the current strengths and weaknesses worldwide and to promote improvements, the International Atomic Energy Agency organized a Technical Meeting on patient dose monitoring and the use of DRLs on May 2016. This paper reports a summary of the findings and conclusions from the meeting. The strengths and weaknesses were generally different in less-developed countries compared with developed countries. Possible improvements were suggested in six areas: human resources and responsibilities, training, safety and quality culture, regulations, funding, and tools and methods. An overall conclusion was that radiation protection requires a patient-centric approach and a transfer from purely reactive to increasingly proactive optimization, whereby the best outcome is expected from good teamwork.