Sky Zazlov, of Toronto, received an MRI-guided focused ultrasound, a non-invasive procedure that sends more than 1,000 beams through the skull to a tiny target in each hemisphere of the brain to treat her major depressive disorder. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Sky Zazlov, of Toronto, received an MRI-guided focused ultrasound, a non-invasive procedure that sends more than 1,000 beams through the skull to a tiny target in each hemisphere of the brain to treat her major depressive disorder. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Alberta commits $33 million to help reduce medical imaging wait times

The Alberta government has committed $33-million in its 2021 budget to help reduce non-emergency CT scans and MRIs.

Officials said Friday that the commitment will support Alberta Health Services in delivering up to 50,000 additional CT (computerized tomography) scans and up to 45,000 additional MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans throughout the province in 2021-22.

“Albertans need better results from our health-care system, including from MRIs and CT scans that can diagnose their health condition and set them on the path to recovery,” said Premier Jason Kenney.

“This commitment is part of Alberta’s historic investment in health care. We will ensure that all health dollars are spent wisely to support patients and families.”

The additional $33 million will augment the $1 billion Alberta spends each year on diagnostic imaging. This total spend includes ultrasounds, X-rays and mammography, as well as MRIs and CT scans for Albertans.

According to the press release, demand for CT scans in Alberta is increasing by five per cent annually, and for MRIs by 3.5 per cent annually.

As of December 2020, 44,341 Albertans were waiting for a CT scan, down from 60,181 Albertans waiting in March 2020 and 79 per cent of urgent out-patients were able to get their scans within clinically appropriate wait times.

There were 59,614 Albertans were waiting for an MRI in December 2020, down from 66,183 Albertans waiting in March 2020 and 75 per cent of urgent out-patients were able to get their MRIs within clinically appropriate wait times.

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