COVID-19 reduced imaging volume by 55%

2020 04 23 23 09 1336 Graph Market Down 400

The COVID-19 pandemic reduced imaging volume by 55% at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center/Case Western Reserve in Ohio, according to a study published July 12 in Academic Radiology.

The findings corroborate other reports that have suggested that radiology practices lost 50% to 70% of normal imaging volume during the height of the crisis, wrote a team led by Dr. Keval Parikh.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on radiology practices nationwide," the group wrote.

Parikh's team assessed imaging performed between March 8 and April 30 of this year, using the first week of this timeframe and the 10 weeks prior to it to establish expected volume levels for a normal practice. The group calculated total imaging use by patient setting and imaging modality at University Hospitals' three highest-volume facilities.

The researchers found the following:

  • Imaging volume across the hospital network decreased by 55% between April 7 and 13, 2020.
  • Outpatient exams fell by 68% compared with normal practice.
  • Emergency exams declined by 48% and inpatient exams by 31%.
  • Mammograms and nuclear medicine scans were hit hardest, falling by 93% and 61%.
  • At its nadir, technical component revenue from the network's main hospital imaging services showed a 49% decrease compared with normal practice.

Parikh's group hopes that this data will help colleagues better understand the effects of COVID-19 on their practices.

"We recommend large and small institutions to continue publicizing their actual data to create an accurate picture of how the pandemic is affecting different types of radiology practices," the team concluded. "As health systems continue to navigate the uncertainty of the pandemic ... these studies will help inform evidence-based decisions for more accurate volume predictions, policy changes, and staff reorganization."

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