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No-show rate hit 55% in medical imaging during the peak of pandemic

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | February 11, 2021
CT Molecular Imaging MRI Ultrasound X-Ray
No-shows for medical imaging appointments rose 55% during the peak of the pandemic
No-shows for imaging soared 55% in the past year, according to a new study out of Mount Sinai Health System.

Clinicians at the New York City hospital chalked the trend up to social distancing measures and say it is in line with an 85% drop in total outpatient imaging volumes observed at their facility around the same time. They add that while no-show rates have stabilized, volume is still recovering.

“Presumably, the general public may have been hesitant to visit healthcare facilities for fear of exposure; and a self-imposed ‘social distancing’ with respect to healthcare facilities contributed to the increased no-show rate,” wrote first authors Dr. Amish Doshi and Dr. Shingo Kihira, of the Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai’s department of diagnostic, molecular and interventional radiology.

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Doshi, Kihira and their colleagues assessed data from six Sinai outpatient imaging facilities in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn between January and July 2020. They broke down no-show rates by modality, but excluded interventional radiology from their retrospective analysis.

No-shows began rising beginning March 10, after the emergency declaration in New York State. The rate peaked on April 9, at which point they saw a fivefold increase in patients failing to appear for their appointments across CT (19% to 64%); MR (29% to 47%); PET (24% to 55%); ultrasound (20% to 43%); DEXA (17% to 78%); and mammography (24% to 70%). While the rate of no-shows for all of these returned to normal by June 1, radiography was slower to recover, with no-shows rising from 3% during the baseline period (Feb. 3 to March 2) to 26% in one month after March 10. Recovery for it was slow throughout June and July.

“These findings may allow radiology outpatient practices to prepare for changes in imaging volumes and patient no-show based on state and local social distancing regulations and reopening,” wrote the authors.

The findings were published in Clinical Imaging.

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