Providers can see a financial benefit from offering free lung cancer screenings

Providing free lung cancer screening with low-dose CT (LDCT) clearly helps patients, but it can also lead to financial benefits for healthcare providers, according to a study published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

The authors explored 30 months of data from a LDCT screening program targeting underserved patients. Overall, 418 patients underwent 705 scans. The adjusted net margin per case was -$212 in the first year. By the third year, however, that adjusted net margin per case was $177.

Of course, the primary focus of any screening program isn’t to make a profit, it’s to help diagnose suspicious findings as fast as possible.

“Our mission is to find lung cancer earlier,” said Carsten Schroeder, MD, PhD, thoracic surgical oncologist at the Georgia Cancer Center and Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, in a prepared statement. “If we find a nodule in the lung that’s in the later stages, survival rate is much worse than if we find it earlier.”

The research team’s findings show, however, that all parties can benefit from screening programs.

“Our free lung screening program is a win for the communities we serve and for the hospital system,” Schroeder said in the same statement. “We bring them in for a free screening, which serves as a starting point for their medical care and health needs for the rest of their lives.”