MRI and CT scans play key roles in helping diagnose many illnesses and conditions. As demand for these procedures grows across the province, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is investing in performing more scans to meet the needs of patients.
Recent reports in both the Calgary Herald and Medicine Hat News point to increasing wait times for these procedures due to budget cuts. Specifically, they suggest AHS has made cuts to the number of non-urgent or outpatient CT scans.
This is incorrect. There have been no cuts to the number of CT scans in 2015/16. In fact, this year, we will perform 391,400 CT scans across Alberta, almost 4,300 more scans than the year before.
These 391,400 CT scans include a mix of both emergency scans and less urgent or scheduled scans. Urgent scans are usually completed within 24 to 48 hours and emergency scans are done within hours.
If there is an increase in the number of emergency scans we must perform to save lives, patients waiting for less urgent outpatient scans may have to wait longer.
AHS will continue to invest in performing more scans for one simple reason: to meet the needs of patients.
Despite the increasing demand for MRI scans, we have kept pace and wait times have remained relatively stable year over year.
This is due in large part to our investment in performing higher volumes of procedures. Since 2011/12, the number of MRI scans we perform has increased nearly 17 per cent. This year we will perform almost 194,000 MRI scans across Alberta.
As the number of Albertans grows, so does the demand for CT and MRI scans. This is why we have continued to invest in performed more procedures every year. 2015/16 is no exception.
However, performing more scans and investing more money is only half the solution. Reducing wait times depends on ensuring the right patients receive the right scan when they need it.
We are working with Alberta’s physicians to understand their ordering practices and work with them to help ensure each patient receives the most appropriate scan.