More than NT$1.7 billion (US$55.55 million) in medical resources were wasted last year because people did not return to hospitals to check the results of their computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, with some even retaking the tests at other hospitals, the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) said.
Failure to return to a hospital within 30 days of getting scans done is not only a waste of resources, but also puts an unnecessary burden on hospital staff, NHIA Director-
General Lee Po-chang (李伯璋) said on Saturday last week.
There were 127,000 cases of people not collecting their CT scan results within 30 days last year — or 15 percent of the total number of CT scans — wasting about NT$560 million of resources, the agency said.
Moreover, there were 42,000 cases of people retaking the same test at different hospitals, accounting for 5 percent of the total and wasting NT$180 million, it said.
A total of 88,000 cases of MRI scans — or 16 percent of the total — were also not collected last year, resulting in NT$720 million in wasted resources, the agency said, adding that there were 37,000 cases of tests being retaken at other hospitals, which cost NT$300 million.
Annual health insurance expenditure totals about NT$600 billion, and the agency is having a hard time keeping up with the costs, it said.
Lee said he did not know how severe the issue of wasted resources was until he scrutinized the data.
The problem might be due to the misconception that hospitals would notify people about the scan results instead of patients returning to pick them up, Lee said.
Another possibility is that people feel there is nothing wrong with them and so do not feel the need to get the results, he said.
Aside from CT and MRI scans, there are more than 1 million tests conducted by hospitals annually whose results are not picked up, he said.
These include X-ray, ultrasound, pathology, urinary and blood tests for cholesterol levels and to analyze risks of heart disease, he said.
Lee urged doctors to be more alert to potential waste of resources and to talk to patients about the importance of getting their test results and having them explained by a doctor.
Cutting wastefulness will keep health insurance costs from rising, which benefits the public, he said.
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