OECD imaging data shows stark differences in usage

The OECD’s data on imaging examinations per-person and per-machine show massive gulfs in levels of usage, as well as the concentration of the sector outside of the hospital setting in Germany and France.

As part of our HBI Intelligence Imaging report, we’ve agglomerated the OECD data on PT, CT and MRI examinations per scanner and per person, as well as in the outpatient sector only, across around 20 countries. The data includes the private sector although methodology may vary slightly by country, and is outlined on the OECD website.

Make the graphic full-screen at the top-right and click the tabs at the top to switch between – and sort by – modality usage in terms of examinations per person. Multiple scans may happen in one exam.

Overall, the highest PET scans per person – the purple dots and the right axis – are seen in Denmark, Israel, France and the US. All are developed markets, with the US and France thought to overtreat and Israel praised for its high spend on primary care and diagnostics. Denmark, where the public sector dominates healthcare to a greater extent than its European peers, is a surprise leader.

The US tops the CT ranking, with Turkey third, an unsurprising inclusion as we hear anecdotal evidence that over-scanning is rife in the country. There is no data for MRIs and PETs there but we suspect it would figure at the top for these too. Germany, France, then the US rank highest for MRI usage.

CT is the only modality which shows anything close to a correlation between scans-per-person and scans-per-scanner, the latter of which is shown with the coloured bars. And there is a much wider range between the lowest and highest use of PET and CT, compared to the range of MRI. The first two’s high radiation levels make high usage controversial.

If we look at outpatient only (for which there is not enough PET data to provide useful comparisons) we see how far diagnostic imaging is concentrated in the outpatient sector in France and Germany, followed by Slovenia, Iceland, the US and Latvia.

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Cameron Murray or call 0207 183 3779.