The Ongoing Gap in Availability of Imaging Services at Teaching Versus Nonteaching Hospitals

Published:April 16, 2016DOI:

      Rationale and Objectives

      This study aimed to characterize associations between availability of imaging services and intensity of teaching among US hospitals.

      Materials and Methods

      Using the American Hospital Association Annual Survey Database, we studied information regarding the availability of imaging services at general hospitals nationwide in 2007 (4102 hospitals) and in 2012 (3876). Teaching intensity was categorized as Council of Teaching Hospitals (COTH) member, non-COTH teaching hospital (non-COTH member with affiliated medical school and/or residency), and nonteaching hospital. Availability in hospitals of reported basic and advanced imaging modalities, as well as beds, number of employed physicians, and case mix index, was analyzed. Univariable and multivariable trends were assessed.


      All 15 assessed modalities showed significant increases in availability with increasing hospital teaching intensity (P < 0.001). Modalities showing the largest differences between COTH and nonteaching hospitals in 2012 were image-guided radiation therapy (78% vs. 14%), positron emission tomography/computed tomography (74% vs. 17%), and single-photon emission computed tomography (88% vs. 35%). The gap between COTH and nonteaching hospitals increased from 43% in 2007 to 57% in 2012 for positron emission tomography/computed tomography, and from 34% to 48% for virtual colonoscopy. COTH status was a significant predictor, independent of beds and employed physicians, for 10 modalities (P < 0.001–0.038). Greater case mix index was significantly associated with availability of advanced, although not basic, modalities.


      Availability of imaging services increased with greater hospital teaching intensity. Differences were most pronounced and sustained over time for advanced modalities. Our findings reflect the greater advanced imaging resources necessary to support the complexity of care rendered at teaching hospitals. This differential must be considered when exploring adjustments to teaching hospitals' funding levels.

      Key Words

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