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More Than Image Interpreters: Radiologists Add Value to a Strained Canadian Healthcare System

Ottawa, January 26, 2017—Technological advancements in medical imaging have led to improved health outcomes, and cost savings for the Canadian health care system, according to a new report by The Conference Board of Canada.

“Patients from every demographic group rely on radiologists to provide insights into their health, making their work essential to the diagnosis and treatment of many conditions. While technological advancements have improved patient access to radiology, especially in remote and rural locations, the high demand for their service still exceeds the capacity of radiologists in Canada,” said Thy Dinh, Director, Health Economics, The Conference Board of Canada. “Radiology also eases some of the strain on our pressured health care system and provides economic and health benefits.”


  • Radiology is an integral component of the Canadian health care system, which continues to evolve significantly in the era of technological advances and changing population needs.
  • Technological advancements, including breast cancer screening, teleradiology, and interventional radiology have led to improved precision and cost savings for the health care system.
  • Medical imaging is essential to the diagnosis and treatment of many conditions.

The Value of Radiology in Canada looks at three key examples of how radiology has added value to the Canadian health care system:

  1. Breast cancer screening: Radiology has demonstrated value in breast cancer screening through early detection, which results in less invasive treatment, reduced healthcare costs, and increased survivability.
  2. Teleradiology: As medical images can now be transported via the Internet, radiologists are able to provide interpretation and consultation to patients without being physically present in the imaging facility. This improves access to radiology for patients in rural and remote areas and eliminates the need for and cost of patient transfer and prolonged hospital stays.
  3. Interventional Radiology: Interventional radiology allows for guided imaging using real-time diagnostic imaging technologies, which reduces the need for invasive surgery, decreases morbidity and mortality, and post-operative care costs.

Most general practitioners believe that technological advancements have boosted their confidence in treatment for their patients, ultimately leading to more informed clinical decision-making and faster times to definitive diagnoses. With these technological improvements radiologists are playing an increasingly important role in both the detection of disease and injury and in health management.

As a result of increasing demand for their services, Canadian radiologists are performing more imaging exams than ever before. Despite teleradiology’s ability to improve patient access, the increasing demand for medical imaging services is increasing beyond current capacity. The number of radiology residency positions has increased in Canada over the past two decades, however the number of applicants has not kept pace. There is also a shortage of radiologists in rural and remote areas, with zero radiologists working in the territories. This lack of resources is reflected in patient wait times for specialized diagnostic imaging tests which continue to rise in many provinces.

“It is essential to recognize the value of radiology at the hub of patient care through the capacity of medical imaging to improve patient outcomes,” added Dinh.

This report was funded by the Canadian Association of Radiologists.

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