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Pharmacy technology

VIHA decides against mobile MRI services

VICTORIA – Following a review of six proposals received in response to a Request for Proposal for mobile MRI services, the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) has decided not to award a contract to an external provider.

Instead, in the immediate future, the health authority will continue to provide fixed location MRI scans at its hospitals in Nanaimo and Victoria. (VIHA has four MRI machines – three located in Victoria and one in Nanaimo.)

As part of a larger provincial funding initiative, VIHA has received additional one-time funding this year to carry out more MRIs with the goal to reduce wait times. Within the resources available, VIHAs options were to provide a mobile service at a higher cost per case – which would mean fewer MRI scans completed overall – or to do higher volumes of MRIs at the fixed sites.

As part of the mobile RFP process, VIHA carried out a shadow bid analysis of its own capacity and cost for providing MRIs. The proposals received under the RFP were significantly more expensive than this shadow bid.

The cost for an external mobile service would be over $600 per MRI scan; VIHA’s cost is approximately $250 per MRI scan done on a site that has an existing MRI.

Given this difference, VIHA decided not to not award a contract and will instead provide 22,764 MRI scans in-house this year, an increase from the 21,740 MRI scans that were performed in 2010/11 and 18,526 scans performed in 2009/10.

Over the past 18 months, wait times for MRI scans have decreased. The average wait time for an MRI scan in Victoria is approximately 10 weeks (down from 27 weeks in July 2010) and about 16 weeks in Nanaimo (down from 32 weeks a year ago).

The RFP for a mobile MRI service was issued in April 2011. VIHA was seeking a five-year contract for 2,500 scans per year with a mobile service that would rotate between three or four locations, moving one or two times each month.

Posted August 11, 2011