Private-pay MRIs have allowed more patients to receive the procedure at no charge to the public health system.
The Government of Saskatchewan announced in February this year that facilities which conduct a private MRI scan must also provide a second scan at no charge to an individual who is on the public waiting list. More than 1,800 patients have benefited from a private MRI scan since the announcement.
“As demand for MRI services continues to increase, our government has provided choice and added capacity for patients seeking a timely MRI in our province,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said in a news release.
According to the government, this amount of patients is equal to an additional MRI machine working five hours per day, seven days a week and the total cost to the public health system would have exceeded $835,000.
Between Feb. 29 and Sept. 30, 943 private MRI scans were performed. This included patients who chose to pay for a scan and scans requested by organizations such as the Saskatchewan Roughriders or Workers’ Compensation Board. Also, 757 patients from the public health system’s MRI wait list received an MRI at no additional cost.
Another 186 scans are in the process of being scheduled.
With the passing of the Patient Choice Medical Imaging Act, and the establishment of regulations, the framework will be in place where private-pay CT services could be offered in the same way as private-pay MRI services.
Licensed facilities that conduct a privately paid scan will be required to provide a similar scan to a patient on the public wait list at no charge to the individual or the health system. A physician referral will be required.
“Our government continues to invest in the public system to support our goal of providing timely and high quality medical imaging services to Saskatchewan people at the same time as private-pay MRI services are growing,” Reiter said.
Between March. 31 to July. 31, the number of patients waiting for public MRI services at public provincial and regional sites decreased from 6,912 to 6,181.
With the addition of the new MRI at the Dr. F.H. Wigmore Hospital in Moose Jaw in 2016, there are now 10 public scanners in the province.