AHS on the Mission of Cutting Down Unnecessary MRI and CT Scans


The people from Alberta Health Services look to reduce the unnecessary MRI and CT investigation. This is a provincial initiative and so far it is on the course of reaching its goal. However, it seems harder work is necessary to cut down waiting times for these expensive tests.

How did it start?

This mission started three years ago and since then a 12 percent drop can be observed. We are talking about magnetic resonance imaging used for scanning the lumbar spine and the lower back. Mauro Chies, who is the vice-president of clinical support services said that progress has been made, although the people that launched this initiative hoped for more.

While CT scans dropped as well, it didn’t make so much of an impact, mainly because MRI tends to be preferred.

Why do they focus on the lower back scans?

They based their initiative on a study according to which over 50% of the requests for MRI in Alberta didn’t have enough value or they were simply inappropriate. Another reason was the fact that family doctors who recommended these diagnostic tests were right only on 34 percent of the cases.

Because 30% of MRI scans focus on the lower back alone, it is only natural that the process would start there, according to Chies. They didn’t just said no to scans but they started to properly educate the doctors so that they won’t make any more unnecessary requests for MRI or CT scanning.

A new technology platform rises

In order to achieve further reductions, AHS leaders look to incorporate the Connect Care information technology platform, which has a helpful tool called ‘clinical decision support’. This feature will allow doctors to gain guidance in setting up the ideal diagnosis plan.


Laura grew up in a small town in northern Quebec. She studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married her husband one month later. They were then blessed with two baby boys within the first four years of marriage. Having babies gave their family a desire to return to the old paths – to nourish their family with traditional, homegrown foods; rid their home of toxic chemicals and petroleum products; and give their boys a chance to know a simple, sustainable way of life. They are currently building a homestead from scratch on two little acres in central Texas. There’s a lot to be done to become somewhat self-sufficient, but they are debt-free and get to spend their days living this simple, good life together with their five young children. Laura is an advocate for people with disabilities.


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