Even amid a global pandemic putting unprecedented pressure on British Columbia’s health system more MRI and CT scans have been completed in the province than ever before.
The annual scan progress report, released on Thursday, shows the province performed 296,211 MRIs in the 2021/22 fiscal year.
This is up from the record of 252,527 MRIs performed set two years ago in 2019/20.
What is not provided in the report is how long patients are waiting to get an MRI or CT scan. An aging population has led to a dramatic increase in the need for scans.
“When we committed to improving access to MRI exams in 2018, we knew we were making some bold requests of the health-care system,” the report reads.
“We were confident we could make dramatic, system-wide improvements but we could have not predicted the success we achieved even through these unprecedented times.”
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The COVID-19 pandemic has had various different impacts on the system. One of the biggest challenges has been completing the scans while staff have been sick with the virus.,
As part of the response to the pandemic, it is estimated that approximately 30,000 MRI exams were lost due to postponements and another 16,000 MRI exams due to elongated cleaning and disinfectant protocols in 2020/21.
In early 2018, the province announced the new B.C. Surgical and Diagnostic Imaging Strategy. It was introduced in an attempt to cut down on growing waits for scans in the province.
CT scans have also increased across the province, with 901,256 scans completed in 2021/22. The previous high in the province was 812,212 scans completed in 2020/21.
As part of the CT scan and MRI strategy, the province has dramatically increased the hours the machines are running.
In 2021/22, B.C.’s MRI scanners were operating over 4,631 hours per week on average – 288 more hours per week than last year.
The province has also expanded its focus to increase the supply of essential personnel, such as technologists.