Study Assesses COVID-19 Impact on Imaging Volumes

By News Release

Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy InstituteAs a result of the COVID-19 pandemic many radiology departments have experienced a rapid decline in imaging case volumes. This has important implications on the short-term and long-term economic stability of Radiology departments across all practice settings. This new study, funded by the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute and published online in Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR), evaluates the impact of the pandemic on imaging case volumes using real-world data from a large healthcare institution.

This study examined retrospective imaging case volumes in a large healthcare system from January 1, 2019 – April 18, 2020 to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the imaging volumes by patient service locations and imaging modality types. The institution is the largest healthcare system in New York State, comprised of 23 hospitals (academic, community, and specialty), 52 urgent care centers, and 17 imaging centers, serving a highly diverse mix of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.

“The results from this study have revealed an overall 28% decline in the total imaging volume over a 7 week-period during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 2019, including all patient service locations and imaging modality types,” stated Pina Sanelli, MD, senior author and Professor of Radiology at Northwell Health. “However, the trend data has shown a transition period with a steep decline rate over a 4 week period. Following this transition period, the maximum decline in the 2020 imaging case volumes was observed in the last week (40%). Furthermore, this study has demonstrated that the imaging volume deterioration has varied by location, with the greatest declines observed in the outpatient setting (maximum year over year decline of 88%) followed by the emergency department (46%) and inpatient (4%) settings.”

Since the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic remains uncertain, this study may assist in guiding short-term and long-term practice decisions based on the magnitude of imaging volume decline across different patient service locations and specific imaging modality types during the COVID-19 pandemic. Importantly, this data may play a vital role in demonstrating the impact on Radiology practices to support requests for funding relief from the government COVID-19 recovery plans.

“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. 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,” said Jason Naidich, MD, lead study author, Senior Vice President and Executive Director, central region at Northwell Health.

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Study Assesses COVID-19 Impact on Imaging Volumes.  Appl Radiol. 

By News Release| May 21, 2020
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