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X-ray Year in Review 2021

December 08, 2021
From the November 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
The year in X-ray news saw radiologist shortages, innovations in detector technology, increasing AI adoption, new scanners from the leading OEMs and a pivot closer to the tenets of value-based care. Here, in chronological order, are the nine biggest X-ray stories of the year from our Daily News online.

No-show rate hit 55% in medical imaging during the peak of pandemic
No-shows for imaging soared 55% in 2020, according to a study out of Mount Sinai Health System in February. Researchers at the New York City hospital chalked the trend up to social distancing measures and said it is in line with an 85% drop in total outpatient imaging volumes observed at their facility around the same time. They added that while no-show rates had stabilized, volume was still recovering.

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“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.

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.

Coal miner chest X-ray readings vulnerable to financial bias
In March, research published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society showed that chest X-ray diagnoses for coal miners may be compromised due to financial bias on the part of the doctor reading the results.

The researchers, based out of the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), investigated assessments of coal worker’s pneumonoconiosis (also known as black lung disease), which is caused by the inhalation of dust. Physicians hired by the U.S. Department of Labor or a miner were found to be less likely to have biased assessments, compared to those hired a miner’s employer.

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