Increased MRI wait time may mean absence of minority, low socioeconomic patients

New retrospective research published online March 1 in the Journal of the American College of Radiology shows that increased wait days to undergo MRI exams lead to minorities and patients of lower socioeconomic status missing more imaging appointments.    

"Efforts to reduce wait days may improve equity in access to and utilization of advanced diagnostic imaging for all patients," wrote lead author Dania Daye, MD, PhD from the department of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues.  

Daye and colleagues analyzed 42,727 adult patients scheduled for outpatient MRI exams during a 12-month period while also obtaining scheduling data and demographic information.  

"Linear regression was performed to assess the relationship between missed appointment rates and wait days, stratified by race, income and patient insurance groups with analysis of covariance statistics," the researchers wrote.  

Researchers found the average number of wait days among study participants was 7.95. Overall, missed appointments and wait days linearly increased, suggesting that a covariance revealing that minorities and Medicaid insurance are "significant effect modifiers."

"Multivariate regression showed increased odds ratio for missed appointments for patients with increased wait days (7-21 days: odds ratio [OR], 1.39; >21 days: OR, 1.77), African American patients (OR, 1.71), Hispanic patients (OR, 1.30), patients with noncommercial insurance (OR, 2.00-2.55), and those with imaging performed at the main hospital campus (OR, 1.51)," according to researchers.