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Service delivery

Manitoba mulls mobile surgery and diagnostic imaging

WINNIPEG – The province of Manitoba has issued a request for information (RFI) to review the options for implementing a mobile services model of care delivery in Manitoba, Health Minister Theresa Oswald (pictured) announced earlier this month.

“Mobile surgical and diagnostic units have the potential to bring more health services to rural and northern communities while also reducing wait times for all Manitobans,” said Oswald. “This will build on our progress in establishing permanent health services in rural areas including cancer services, dialysis, surgical programs and diagnostic imaging equipment in dozens of communities around the province.”

While mobile surgical and diagnostic units are used in other countries, including the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the United States, they are not common in Canada. Currently, the province has mobile units that offer breast screening, ultrasound services and a northern mobile retinal screening program..

The new mobile units could offer routine and/or elective day surgery services that are deemed safe to offer in a mobile suite. These could include: diagnostic and interventional procedures using scopes, certain biopsies and minor surgeries on the knee, elbow, wrist and shoulder; and procedures done under local anaesthetic such as skin cancer removal, carpal tunnel surgeries, trigger finger repairs, minor ear, nose and throat surgeries, cataract surgeries and minor hernia repairs.

Mobile units could also offer additional diagnostic procedures including MRI and bone density scanning.

The RFI will assist Manitoba Health in analyzing cost implications, identifying requirements to ensure compliance to patient safety standards, and determining the logistics of offering mobile surgical services in rural Manitoba, said the minister. Mobile units have the potential to bring services to smaller communities that don’t have a large enough population to support a permanent program.

“While mobile surgical suites are used in other countries, Manitoba would be the first province in Canada to offer permanent mobile surgical services and the request for information will help us investigate whether this innovative approach to service delivery is well-suited to Manitoba’s climate, geography and health system,” said Oswald. “Our goal is to provide Manitobans with safe, high-quality, cost-efficient surgical and diagnostic services, as close to their homes as possible.”

Posted April 7, 2011