Basic characteristics of radiology groups in the United States: results of a 1991-1992 census.

Research paper by S S Bansal, J J Sunshine

Indexed on: 01 Feb '94Published on: 01 Feb '94Published in: AJR. American journal of roentgenology


The American College of Radiology (ACR), the principal professional organization of United States radiologists, receives numerous requests for information on the characteristics of radiology groups. This report describes the basic characteristics of radiology groups in the United States. We defined radiology groups as any practice with two or more radiologists or radiation oncologists, including academic departments, units in multispecialty groups, and staff of government facilities.To collect basic information on radiology groups, the ACR conducted a mail census of all identified radiology groups in the United States during late 1991 and early 1992. Follow-up was conducted by mail and telephone. To make the responses accurately representative of all radiology groups, we weighted the approximately 2000 responses to correspond to known control totals for the number of groups of each of seven size categories in each of the four census regions (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West). These control totals were obtained from the ACR's 1990 Manpower Survey, which showed a total of approximately 3200 radiology groups.Approximately one fourth of all groups have two radiologists, one fourth have three or four radiologists, one fourth have five to seven radiologists, and one fourth have eight or more radiologists. Academic groups were relatively large; almost 50% had 11 or more radiologists. Nonmetropolitan areas had very few large groups, and metropolitan center cities had relatively few small groups. Ninety-two percent of all groups practiced at hospitals, and 73% of all groups practiced at nonhospital offices or centers. The median number of practice sites for all groups was three, including both hospital and nonhospital sites. Eighty-eight percent of all groups provided diagnostic radiology services, 23% provided radiation oncology, 12% offered both, and 11% were oncology-only groups. Relatively many academic groups (25%) were oncology-only groups; very few radiology groups (2%) in multispecialty practices were oncology-only groups. The diagnostic radiology techniques available from the largest percentages of groups were general radiography (plain film), sonography, mammography, and CT. One eighth of academic groups that provided diagnostic services did not report providing mammography, compared with only a few percent of all groups in the United States that provided diagnostic services.Half of all groups have two to four radiologists, and this has not changed since at least 1986. A substantial percentage of groups that perform diagnostic radiology do not provide MR, interventional, or nuclear medicine services. This is particularly true of relatively small groups. These characteristics may become the source of some problems as managed care becomes more prominent and larger groups, offering a full range of services and practicing at several sites, are favored by managed care organizations that seek to contract with one group for all their radiology services.