If I had told you four months ago that the growing trend of increased demand for medical imaging would plummet due to a global pandemic – you may have called me crazy. Yet – we have found ourselves experiencing the unimaginable – with COVID-19 significantly impacting the nature of the radiology workflow, and beyond the world of radiology – unleashing an unprecedented wave of uncertainty in all aspects of life.
With COVID-19 taking up so much space in our global consciousness, I wanted to contribute to this conversation with clarity, transparency and like the AI nerd that I am, hard data. Our goal is to share the recent imaging trends identified by our analysis servers so we can have an open discussion on the current state of medical imaging in relation to COVID-19 and discuss and predict what we can expect as we move forward.
Below we’ve broken down CT imaging volumes from a subset of pathologies and sites we support including the United States, Europe, South America, Israel and Australia. These graphs are dynamic and will be updated weekly. We’ll be sharing further conclusions as more data comes in so be sure to check back for further insights.
Results as of March 22nd
The most notable impact is a 20% decrease in total CT volume during the past week vs the same week last month. The major decrease came from European sites (39%), with US sites (20%) dropping as well. I have heard people state that they expect the EU to be a prelude to what will happen in the US, in which case we are yet to see how other countries fare. I will provide more insights as this week progresses, but in the meantime, I would welcome your thoughts – Is your radiology department experiencing similar trends as to what we’re seeing? Please feel free to comment and contribute to this conversation. I truly believe that the more data we share with each other – the better chances we have of creating innovative solutions to address this challenge.
Results as of April 1st
We persist in our review of the subset of pathologies and sites we support and see a continued trend of decline in overall CT volume since the beginning of February (39%) worldwide.
That being said, we see imaging volumes are starting to stabilize, especially in the EU and the US. In the EU, we see only a 4% reduction in the last week (March 23rd – April 1st) versus a 39% reduction from the previous week (March 16th – March 22nd). In the US we see a 14% reduction in the last week (March 23rd – April 1st) versus a 20% reduction from the previous week. (March 16th – March 22nd)
Australia and South America are now experiencing significant decreases in overall volume with 32% and 46% decreases from the baseline respectively. The main drop in volumes could be seen last week (22% and 23%) respectively as they’re ramping up efforts to mitigate risk as COVID-19 begins spreading to these regions.
This week we further investigated these trends and looked at the volumes of CTPA scans as well as the number of positive PE cases that our solution detected.
When comparing data from the beginning of February to April 1st, we found a 25% decrease in CTPA volume. However, when we looked at our academic sites specifically, we saw an increase in the prevalence of positive PE cases from 11% at the beginning of February to 18% this week.
This correlates with anecdotal information we hear that mostly more critical patients are undergoing CT exams than in the usual course of business.
Is your institution seeing similar trends of a reduction of potentially urgent pathologies?