CAR to track DI equipment with new
The Canadian Association of Radiologists has announced the launch of a
national database that will monitor Canada’s inventory of diagnostic
imaging equipment by type, capability, age and other variables.
To conduct the study, which will poll 400 hospitals this year and the
rest of Canada’s hospitals in the future, the CAR has engaged Millennium
Research Group (MRG) of Toronto, a company with expertise in DI market
surveys and analysis.
“How many ultrasound machines or digital X-ray scanners are there in
Canada?” asked Normand Laberge (pictured),
chief executive officer of the CAR. “Nobody has any idea. But by
tracking all of the modalities in Canada, and their age and
capabilities, we’ll be able to say what needs to be replaced in three or
five or seven years. We’ll be able to plan ahead.”
Laberge noted that a similar project was launched in 1999 to examine the
stock of MRI and CT machines. It proved to be valuable, and led
governments to fund the acquisition of these cutting-edge technologies.
“But we need to look at all equipment, to understand our total imaging
requirements,” said Laberge. “And the only way to do that is to develop
a solid database. We’ve got to apply that same medicine to the rest of
DI.” He said the survey will include all modalities and sub-types – such
as various kinds of ultrasound, nuclear medicine scanners, direct
radiology and computed radiology, mammography, X-ray and fluoroscopy
machines, categorizing them by features, applications and capabilities.
In a second phase of the study, the CAR plans to track the number of
radiologists and technologists who are working in hospitals across the
country, and will also monitor the number of exams conducted in each
modality. The database will then reveal which regions of the country not
only have the biggest equipment shortages or most obsolete equipment,
but also where the shortages of radiologists and techs are most dire,
and which regions are conducting the fewest or most DI exams.
“Some institutions may be under-producing, and some over-producing –
which can also be interpreted as a problem, if they haven’t got enough
radiologists to properly read the exams,” said Laberge. “Then you’re in
danger of low-quality readings.”
By pinpointing locations with inadequate equipment or human resources,
the overall level of care can be dramatically improved.
“Diagnostic imaging is now the cornerstone of healthcare,” said Laberge.
“Half the patients seeking help in a hospital will end up in an imaging
department. We’re the bottleneck, because any problem in DI will affect
the rest of the patient’s experience in the healthcare system,” from
wait times to quality of diagnosis and treatment.
Making sure the right types of equipment, and staff, are available in
various communities or regions would be a major boost to improving the
delivery of care. But Laberge noted that to manage the problems of
technology and personnel in DI, system-wide resources must first be
An annual report produced by Millennium Research Group will enable
hospitals to benchmark themselves against other facilities; hospitals
that participate in the survey will have access to the findings.
As part of the analysis, results will be categorized by hospital type
and by the population-size served by institutions. “So, for example, you
could see how your hospital is doing next to, say, 20 other academic
hospitals serving populations of 1 million or more,” commented Laberge.
The identities of hospitals will remain anonymous, and results will only
be given as aggregated numbers.
Indeed, Laberge said the Canadian Association of Radiologists will
itself not have access to the identities of the respondents, in order to
remain objective. The research company, MRG, will manage this part of
Vendors will also have access to the reports that are produced. Laberge
said the studies will not only provide them with useful strategic
information, but will also lead to better pricing for hospitals. “When
the vendors know how much demand there will be for various technologies,
they will be able to plan better and bring down their costs,” he said.
Laberge observed that over the past few years, he has been inundated
with calls from vendors and consultants seeking to know projected demand
for various imaging modalities in Canada. Soon, he hopes to give them
The database will also produce a powerful source of data for lobbying
governments, showing them the actual need for technologies and human
resources – now and at various points in the future. Again, the data
will help health ministries and regions with strategic planning.
“It was good news a few years ago when governments invested billions of
dollars in diagnostic imaging equipment,” said Laberge. “But don’t
forget, all of that equipment will become outdated at roughly the same
time. We should know what was purchased, and we should be planning for