Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians were waiting an average of 50 to 82 days for CT scans and 89 days for MRI exams, the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) recently said.
Meanwhile, the Conference Board of Canada estimated in a 2019 report on the value of radiology that the average wait time for an MRI scan will increase to 133 days by 2022.
Something needs to be done about these backlogs for imaging studies such as CT, MRI, x-rays, and ultrasound, CAR President Dr. Gilles Soulez told the National Observer.
Wait times currently vary across the Canadian provinces, including an average of 105 days for an MRI scan in March in Saskatchewan, the National Observer reported. In British Columbia, MRI wait times are the lowest they've been since 2016/2017, however, according to the article. In late July, the Ontario government earmarked $35 million Canadian ($28 million U.S.) for MRI and CT imaging as part of up to $324 million ($259 million U.S.) in new funding aimed at enabling hospitals to perform more surgeries.
To improve imaging access for Canadians, the CAR is advocating that the federal government help provinces implement a national e-referral program to provide referring health professionals with better access to medical imaging guidelines. In addition, the association is requesting that the federal government invest $1.5 billion ($1.2 billion U.S.) over five years in medical imaging equipment through the Canada Health Transfer program. It also supports the creation of a National Data Science Institute to harness the use of artificial intelligence technology.
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