B.C. residents are receiving critical medical scans faster than ever before.
Last year, the province completed the most magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) exams ever in a year, according to the B.C. Ministry of Health.
In a June 9 release, the B.C. Ministry of Health stated 211 MRI exams were performed in 2021-22, which is a 20 per cent increase from the previous year. The number of CT exams performed was 901, up 11 per cent.
The increase in exam numbers comes following a 2018 promise from the ministry to increase MRI capacity in B.C.
“We are delivering on our promise to build capacity in our public health-care system so that British Columbians do not have to wait months and months for their exams,” said Adrian Dix, minister of health.
Since 2016-17, the province saw wait times for MRI exams cut by more than half, and the number of MRI exams performed increased by 69 per cent.
The improvements result from expanding MRI appointments into the evenings, weekends and holidays and operating the equivalent of 17 new MRI units across the province. In 2021-22, the province opened two new MRI scanners and one new CT scanner.
Additionally, the Ministry of Health introduced a first-of-its-kind policy to ensure the care provided is “patient-centred by increasing access, choice and transparency and improving communications on waiting list status for patients and referring practitioners,” according to the June 9 release.
In April, the B.C. Institute of Technology and ministries of Health and Advanced Education and Skills and Training established an MRI technologist bursary program. The program aids students so they can graduate earlier and enter the workforce sooner.
While these improvements are a positive accomplishment, Dix recognizes that more must be done.
“We are committed to continue the hard work to make further improvements on patient access to MRI and CT exams,” said Dix.
This upcoming year, the Ministry of Health aims to continue increasing the number of exams performed. They aim to maximize operating hours, add new scanners, increase the number of MRI technologists, and improve waitlist management.