Manitoba initiates pilot to improve
choice of DI tests
WINNIPEG – An
innovative pilot project at Children’s Hospital could lead to shorter
wait times for diagnostic tests such as MRI and CT scans, Health
Minister Tim Sale (pictured at left) said.
The $1-million project involves the use of electronic order entry
software that will assist physicians making referrals to choose the most
appropriate diagnostic imaging test for each patient. It does this at
the time the test is
ordered by providing the physician with electronic guidelines for
diagnostic imaging that have been adopted by the Canadian Association of
The criteria, which are embedded in the software, should reduce the
number of unnecessary or inappropriate tests.
CAR estimates that 3.5 million diagnostic tests performed each year in
Canada are unnecessary or inappropriate, in part, because many doctors
are not aware of appropriate clinical criteria.
“Shortening waiting times means ensuring the appropriate procedures are
performed on the right patients. Ultimately our goal is to change the
way wait-lists are managed and created,” said Sale. “We need to add more
perform more scans but we also need to make sure these scans are
necessary and we are more efficient with the resources we have.”
The project is a partnership between Manitoba Health, CAR and Health
Canada and is implemented through the Winnipeg Regional Health
“Manitoba is the only province to make the demand-side of diagnostic
wait-lists a top priority and should be commended for showing leadership
on what is a critical wait-time issue,” said Normand Laberge, CEO of
“This project has great potential to free up capacity that is currently
tied up with inappropriate usage, resulting in a reduction of wait times
for all patients as well as cost savings,” said Laberge, who compared
the issue to the
way engineers address highway traffic problems. “Obviously you have to
build the highway, but once you have built it you have to deal with the
way it is used or you will continue to have congestion problems.”
“I am very pleased that the Manitoba government and Health Canada have
committed to working with CAR on this project,” said project director
Dr. Martin Reed of the Children’s Hospital at the Health Sciences Centre.
“As chair of the CAR Guideline Committee, I am particularly pleased that
this project is being carried out at Children’s Hospital. I think it is
important for pediatric patients because we want to ensure children are
exposed to the least possible
radiation for appropriate diagnosis. These guidelines will help achieve
“Our goal is to provide better care sooner to patients and this
initiative, like all of our wait-list initiatives, is in pursuit of that
goal. Changing the way we do things is at the heart of it,” said Sale.
The two-year project is cost shared between Health Canada and the
province, with Manitoba’s share coming out of the $25.5 million
designated to improve diagnostic wait times in the $155 million Wait
Times Reduction Fund announced in October 2005.