Radiologist Workload Rises Overall, but Varies by Practice

Radiologist procedures have increased 7 percent in past four years, 34 percent since early 1990s
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- The workload for radiologists has increased 34 percent overall since the early 1990s, but there is considerable variation in the number of procedures performed each year by individual radiology practices, according to a study in the August issue of Radiology.

Mythreyi Bhargavan, Ph.D., of the American College of Radiology (ACR) in Reston, Va., and colleagues compared data from the ACR's 2007 Survey of Radiologists with data from ACR surveys in prior years. The workload by individual practice characteristics was evaluated for statistically significant variations from the overall average, and regression analysis was performed to determine the effect of different practice characteristics on workload.

The researchers found that the workload per full-time equivalent radiologist in 2006 to 2007 was 14,900 procedures, which represented a 7 percent increase since 2002 to 2003 and a 34 percent increase since 1991 to 1992. There was variation in the volume of procedures, and radiologists in a 75th-percentile practice performed at least 65 percent more procedures per year than radiologists in a 25th-percentile practice. Also, practices that employed external off-hours teleradiology services performed 27 percent more procedures than similar practices without the services.

"Radiologists' workload continued to increase in recent years. Because there is much unexplained variation, averages or medians should not be used as norms. However, such statistics can help practices to understand how they compare with other, similar practices," the authors conclude.

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