National funds needed to update imaging equipment in Canada

That’s according to the president of the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR), Dr. Gilles Soulez. He noted that the transition from old to new technology that needs to happen with medical imaging equipment and associated information technology in Canada will require an injection of $1.5 billion Canadian ($1.2 billion U.S.) in federal funding over five years, as estimated by CAR.

Soulez was responding to a report issued May 25 by the Conference Board of Canada entitled Medical Imaging Equipment in Canada 2022: Trends Challenges and Opportunities. In addition to serving as president of CAR, Soulez is professor in the department of radiology at the Université de Montréal in Montreal, and director of imaging research at the Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal.

To rate the condition of Canada’s medical imaging installed base, the report used the “Golden Rules of Medical Imaging” as developed by the European Coordination Committee of Radiological, Electromedical, and Healthcare IT (COCIR). The rules state that at least 60% of a country’s imaging equipment should be five years old or less, that no more than 30% of imaging equipment should be between six and 10 years old, and no more than 10% of imaging equipment should be older than 10 years.

Meeting at least two of the three golden rules is defined as compliance. But Canada meets only one of the rules, that no more than 30% of imaging equipment should be between six and 10 years old.

Among all current CT and MRI scanners in Canada, only 33.5% are between zero and five years old, missing the first golden rule by a measurable degree.

“Newer equipment just works faster, such that the workflow is accelerated,” Soulez said. “We need to optimize the workflow. In that way, newer equipment can decrease wait times for imaging.”

The percentage of CT and MRI units in Canada that are 10 years old and older (35.3%) far exceeds the recommended 10%.

Older imaging inventory is not compatible with cutting-edge developments like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and blockchain technology, developments that can create efficiencies in imaging, Soulez noted. The potential introduction of state-of-the-art imaging equipment will also decrease the workload for medical imaging personnel.

Canada is not alone in failing to meet targets outlined in COCIR’s golden rules. COCIR’s 2021 report demonstrated that the number of countries meeting its three golden rules is fewer than in COCIR’s previous report issued in 2019.

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