by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | August 14, 2020
A new study suggests that ride-share programs offered by hospitals may ensure earlier arrival times for patients scheduled to undergo MR exams.
Researchers at Penn Medicine assessed the differences between timeliness for MR exams and missed MR appointment rates prior to and after the implementation of a ride-share program, finding that it enabled patients to make it to their MR appointments earlier.
"We think this result highlights potential operational benefits for rideshare programs, as increased patient punctuality may improve work flow and efficiency of the imaging site," lead author Dr. Debra Whorms told HCB News. "With a resource of limited availability like MRI, especially with its longer scanning time compared to other modalities such as CT, we expect improved punctuality to have a downstream effect of increasing availability, utilization and accessibility of MRI in the clinical practice, as well as possible economic benefits that can result from decreasing unused scanner time."
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The program was started at Mass General Hospital-Chelsea, an affiliated outpatient imaging site of Mass General Hospital located in the City of Chelsea. Chelsea was chosen due to its large population of underrepresented minorities and individuals with lower socio-economic status, as well as because it was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
The team performed a retrospective analysis of a ride-share program nine months after its implementation. Descriptive statistics and linear and logistic regression were used to compare demographic characteristics among patients using the ride-share program to those who did not use it after implementation, and those who used it before the ride-share existed.
Only 151 of 7,707 patients who were scheduled for MR appointments used the ride-share program during the post-intervention period. The majority who used it consisted of older and unemployed patients, as well as those without commercial insurance.
Logistic regression analyses were used to evaluate timeliness, as well as rates of missed appointments derived from patient-related, same-day appointment cancellations. All analyses were adjusted for potential confounders.
Whorms and her colleagues expect rideshare services to become a growing trend among healthcare institutions across all medical specialties, especially in the current pandemic where timeliness to arrivals may prevent waiting rooms from being overcrowded and will increase patient and staff safety by decreasing the number of potential asymptomatic carriers that are receiving radiology care at the same time.