​​Hospitals are Seeing Low Mammography Rates in Wake of the Pandemic

February 12, 2024

To say the pandemic impacted every part of life would be an understatement. There were plenty of people impacted directly, such as those who became ill with COVID-19 and those who lost employment. Additionally, countless indirect impacts have been felt and will continue to be felt for years to come.

One of these impacts is a drop in mammography rates. As people stayed home and away from healthcare facilities when possible, preventative services like screenings were put on the back burner. While rates are returning to normal as the pandemic wanes, there is still a notable deficit overall that could lead to negative health outcomes.

The Power of New Habits

As the United States and the rest of the world quickly adjusted to the realities of the pandemic early in 2020, new habits were established. For many people, this meant staying home most of the time, only leaving for essential work duties, groceries, and little else. Other chores and to-do list items were largely eliminated, and that included visits to doctors and hospitals for anything other than emergency care.

The thing about habits is that they are hard to change. Even as new protocols were put in place to allow mammography and other screenings to proceed safely, the patients were slow to return. For example, a health care group in Washington State reported roughly half the number of mammograms were completed in 2020 as compared to 2019. Between lingering fears related to the virus and the new patterns of a pandemic-driven lifestyle, it was hard to get women in to have their annual mammogram performed.

Highlighting the Need for More Accessible Mammograms

The good news here is that most women have gotten back to their pre-pandemic habit of having a periodic mammogram performed. These screenings are important as they can detect breast cancer in its early stages when it is easier to treat. In fact, when breast cancer is detected early, the survival rate after five years is at least 93%. The importance of screenings cannot be overstated, and every attempt should be made to make these scans available to all women.

What the pandemic has highlighted is the need to improve access to mammograms to make them as convenient as possible for the female population as a whole. The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms for women between 45–54, and one scan every other year for women 55 and older. Of course, those scans won’t happen if the woman doesn’t have reasonable access to a healthcare facility that can perform the screening.

For example, women who live in rural communities may have to take a long trip to reach a healthcare facility that has the necessary imaging equipment to perform a mammogram. That long trip may not be feasible due to time constraints, a lack of transportation, or other health issues. These populations of women may simply go without these crucial screenings because the scan isn’t available in a way that is practical for their life.

Mobile Imaging Solves Many Problems

The rise of mobile mammography, and mobile imaging as a whole, brings a much-needed solution to this issue. With mobile equipment, and the ability to lease that equipment, more healthcare facilities can offer mammography at multiple, convenient locations while staying within budgetary restrictions.

To carry on the example from the section above, women in rural areas may be able to access more convenient breast cancer screenings when local healthcare facilities can lease mobile equipment to bring those scans closer to them. Without the major overhead investment required to purchase a permanent machine, the technology becomes more accessible in rural areas, and more women are screened in the end.

Connect with AIMI Today

The benefits associated with mobile mammography are many, and some of those strengths have been highlighted by the realities of the pandemic. If you’d like more information about the operational leases we offer on medical imaging equipment, please contact us right away. Thank you for your time and we hope to work with you soon.

Categories: Mammography

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