People across BC are getting magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) exams faster and closer to home, with the most MRI and CT exams completed in a single year last year.
“In March 2018, we committed to increase MRI capacity in the province. Since then, we have invested in better services for patients, adding new capacity and increasing tests,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. We are making good on our promise to build capacity in our public health care system so that British Columbians don’t have to wait months and months for their exams.
In 2021-22, 296,211 MRI examinations were performed, an increase of 49,105 or 20% over the previous year. The number of CT examinations performed was 901,256, or 11% more than the previous year.
Since 2016-17, wait times for MRI exams have been cut by more than half. The number of MRI exams performed increased by 120,504 exams, or 69% since then. Since August 2017, scanning hours have increased by more than 4,600 hours per week, an increase of 1,800 hours per week and 68%. This was achieved through the expansion of MRI appointments to evenings, weekends and holidays, equivalent to 17 new MRI units across the province.
Two net-new MRI scanners will become operational in 2021-22. One was at St. Paul’s Hospital, the facility’s third, and one was at the Granville MRI clinic, which opened last year. A net-new CT scanner opened at Burnaby Hospital in January 2022, the facility’s second.
To support training and recruitment efforts, the Ministries of Health, Advanced Education, Skills and Training and the BC Institute of Technology have also established an MRI Technologist Bursary Program. The program, which began in April 2022, supports MRI technologist students so they can graduate early and enter the workforce faster.
The Ministry of Health also released the first medical imaging provincial waiting-list management policy, which outlines best practices for optimal management of MRI and CT waiting lists. This policy ensures that care is patient-centered by increasing access, choice, and transparency, and improving communications about waiting list status to patients and referring practitioners.
“We always keep in mind that our patients and the health care they rely on are at the heart of our efforts,” Dix said. “We celebrate with them as they see imaging capacity increase and wait times decrease over the past five years. We also know there is more work to be done. “We are committed to continuing our hard work to further improve patient access to MRI and CT exams.”
In the coming year, efforts will focus on:
- Increase capacity by performing more tests, maximize uptime, and add new scanners;
- augmenting essential personnel by increasing educational and training opportunities, such as introducing the MRI Technologist Bursary Program;
- Optimize business processes by increasing efficiency to improve service delivery for a better, more efficient patient and referring practitioner experience; And
- Improving waiting-list management and waiting-list status communications by continuing to implement best practices in the management of waiting lists.
MRI and CT scanners are non-invasive tools used to produce images of the human body to evaluate certain medical conditions. MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields and radio waves to evaluate neurological, musculoskeletal, cardiac, and abdominal disorders and stage cancers.
A CT scanner uses computer processing to create cross-sectional images by combining a series of X-ray images taken from different angles around the body. CT scanning is commonly used to evaluate trauma and cerebrovascular conditions, investigate chest and abdominal anomalies, stage cancers, and pre- and post-operative evaluation.
To view the 2021-22 Medical Imaging Annual Progress Report, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/MI_Annual_Progress_Report_June_2022.pdf