The Health Ministry announced a series of steps on Sunday to make medical testing using magnetic resonance imaging equipment, or MRIs, more readily available to patients along with major cuts in the amount of time that patients wait for MRI exams. The goal is to have 46 MRIs available around the country within a year and a half. Currently there are 25.
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MRIs are a major medical diagnostic tool and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman told a Jerusalem news conference Sunday that the goal was to more than double the number of MRI scans that are provided in the coming years, from 20 per 1,000 people in the country in 2011 to about 46 per 1,000. The waiting time for an MRI will be no longer than two weeks, the Health Ministry promised. The current average wait for an MRI is 52 days. The ministry also plans to cut the time it takes to get a written evaluation of the results.
MRIs are to run 24 hours a day to maximize their use. Currently only some hospitals make their MRIs available day and night. An additional 60 million shekels ($15.5 million) is being earmarked in part to buy new MRIs and to pay for staffing and training. At the moment seven hospitals around the country do not have MRIs in their emergency rooms. The goal is to rectify that through ministry funding of 40 percent of the cost of the equipment and to provide funding to the two smallest of the country’s four HMOs, Meuhedet and Leumit, to acquire MRIs.