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Medicine and Public Policy |

Is the Supply of Mammography Machines Outstripping Need and Demand?: An Economic Analysis

Martin L. Brown, PhD; Larry G. Kessler, ScD; and Fred G. Rueter, DSc
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Requests for Reprints: Martin L. Brown, Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, Executive Plaza North, Rm. 313, Bethesda, MD 20892.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Brown and Kessler: Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, Executive Plaza North, Rm. 313, Bethesda, MD 20892. Dr. Rueter: Office of Training and Assistance, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, 5600 Fishers Lane, HFZ-240, Rockville, MD 20857.


Ann Intern Med. 1990;113(7):547-552. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-113-7-547
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The number of dedicated mammography machines installed in the United States has grown explosively. It is estimated that almost 10 000 machines will be installed by 1990, whereas the projected demand for screening mammography will require only approximately 2600 machines, if the machines are used in a moderately efficient manner. The excess supply of mammography resources raises concern from an economic perspective for several reasons. First, such a condition means that health care resources are being used inefficiently. Second, the low average utilization rate of mammography equipment implied by these results necessitates charging a high price—over $100, on average-to cover costs. This price is above the $50 usually associated with low-cost screening mammography programs, and it may impede a desirable public health trend to increase use of mammography screening. Third, the existence of many mammography facilities operating at low capacity levels is inefficient from a health systems persp ctive, increasing the cost of quality assurance and medical record keeping. The current condition of excess supply is probably unsustainable over the long term.

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