Financial Analysis of Free Lung Cancer Screening Program Shows Profitability Using Broader NCCN Guidelines

Jane M. Chung, Erika L. Simmerman, Ramses F Sadek, Suzanne Wojtowicz, Thomas A Dillard, Daniel Albo, Norman B Thomson, Carsten Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) chest scans in high-risk populations has been established as an effective measure of preventive medicine by the National Lung Screening Trial. However, the sustainability of funding a program is still controversial. We present a 2.5-year profitability analysis of our screening program by using the broader National Comprehensive Cancer Network criteria. Methods: Retrospective chart review was performed on the initial 2.5-year data set of a free LDCT chest scan program that targeted the underserved Southeastern United States. Patients were selected by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network high-risk criteria, screening twice as many patients compared with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services criteria. LDCT scans were performed during the off-service hours of our positron emission tomography CT scanner. Analysis of fiscal years 2015 to 2017 was done to evaluate indirect cost, direct cost, and adjusted net margin per case after factoring downstream revenue from positive scans and other findings. Results: A total of 705 scans were performed with 418 patients referred for subsequent procedures or specialist evaluations. The mean overhead cost over total cost was 42.3%. The adjusted net margin per case was −$212 in the first year but turned positive to $177 in the third fiscal year. The total break-even point of adjusted net margin was between 6% and 7% of indirect cost as a function of charges. Of the 60 new patients introduced to the hospital system, a gross margin per case of $211 was found. Conclusions: Free lung cancer screening can demonstrate profitability from downstream revenue with a lag time of 2 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)885-890
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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