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Managing waiting times in diagnostic medical imaging
  1. Sabina Nuti,
  2. Milena Vainieri
  1. Laboratorio Management e Sanità, Institute of Management, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Milena Vainieri; m.vainieri{at}


Objective This paper aims to analyse the variation in the delivery of diagnostic imaging services in order to suggest possible solutions for the reduction of waiting times, increase the quality of services and reduce financial costs.

Design This study provides a logic model to manage waiting times in a regional context. Waiting times measured per day were compared on the basis of the variability in the use rates of CT and MRI examinations in Tuscany for the population, as well as on the basis of the capacity offered with respect to the number of radiologists available. The analysis was performed at the local health authority level to support the decision-making process of local managers.

Setting Diagnostic imaging services, in particular the CT and MRI examinations. The study involved all the 12 local health authorities that provide services for 3.7 million inhabitants of the Italian Tuscany Region.

Primary and secondary outcome measures Participants: the study uses regional administrative data on outpatients and survey data on inpatient diagnostic examinations in order to measure productivity.

Primary and secondary outcome measures The study uses the volumes per 1000 inhabitants, the days of waiting times and the number of examinations per radiologist. Variability was measured using the traditional SD measures.

Results A significant variation in areas considered homogeneous in terms of age, gender or mortality may indicate that the use of radiological services is not optimal and underuse or overuse occurs and that there is room for improvement in the service organisation.

Conclusions Considering that there is a high level of variability among district use rates and waiting times, this study provides managers with a specific tool to find the cause of the problem, identify a possible solution, assess the financial impact and initiate the eventual reduction of waste.

  • Health Services Administration & Management

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