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Imaging volumes across patient settings and imaging modalities on steep decline

par John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | May 26, 2020
Business Affairs CT MRI X-Ray
Total imaging volume across all patient service locations and imaging modalities has declined by almost 30%, according to a new study.
Imaging volume across all patient service locations and imaging modalities is on a steep decline, according to study from the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute.

Seeking to create guidance for making decisions on the magnitude of imaging volume declines across all practice settings, investigators analyzed such losses at Northwell Health, the largest healthcare system in New York State. They reported that total volume dropped by almost 30 percent in just under two months.

“The results from this study have revealed an overall 28% decline in the total imaging volume over a seven-week period during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 2019, including all patient service locations and imaging modality types,” said Dr. Pina Sanelli, senior author and professor of radiology at Northwell Health, in a statement.

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Sanelli and her colleagues conducted their research using real-world data collected from Northwell Health, which comprises 23 hospitals (academic, community, and specialty), 52 urgent care centers and 17 imaging centers that serve a diverse mix of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.

They found steep declines took place over four weeks, followed by a 40% maximum decline in the 2020 imaging case volumes in the last week. The greatest decreases were observed in the outpatient setting, which had a maximum year-over-year decline of 88%. Drops in the emergency department were 46%, and 4% in inpatient settings.

The researchers assert that their findings may help support requests by radiology practices to government COVID-19 recovery plans for funding relief.

“Our study demonstrates the magnitude of the disruption caused by the pandemic and suggests that practices that depend on outpatient imaging will be most severely affected,” said Dr. Jason Naidich, lead study author, senior vice president and executive director, central region at Northwell Health, in a statement. “Even though healthcare institutions and small businesses may be eligible for some economic relief from a variety of government programs, the crisis has placed significant financial strain on many practices and radiologists. More assistance may be necessary as the pace and degree of recovery remain uncertain.”

The findings were published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR).

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