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Ann Intern Med. 1990 Oct 1;113(7):547-52.

Is the supply of mammography machines outstripping need and demand? An economic analysis.

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  • 1National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.


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 2,600 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 perspective, 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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