More patients receiving MRI appointments through optimization tactics

(HORIZON) – More patients are receiving appointments, wait times have decreased and waitlists have been reduced, thanks to process improvement projects to optimize magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services at Horizon.

A pilot project at Horizon’s Miramichi Regional Hospital (MRH) has increased the number of patients seen in a week from 56 (2021) to 83 (2023) – an increase of almost 50 per cent — and decreased the average wait time between appointments to just under eight minutes, from 17 minutes.

“These improvements are part of Horizon’s plan to provide better access to quality health care for all New Brunswickers,” said Gary Foley, Vice President Professional Services. “I want to thank all the staff and physicians involved in this project for their dedication to continuous improvement, which will help ensure all patients have access to MRI services when in need.”

These improvements can be attributed to updates to processes in the current booking system, including grouping appointment types and allowing the MRI department to book their patients’ bloodwork, as well as to major improvements, such as upgrades to the MRI machine, changes to the requisition screening form, and staff performing creatinine level point-of-care testing before appointments.

To further decrease wait times, Horizon has also offered patients quicker appointment times if they are willing to travel. Patients able and willing to travel to other hospitals can be seen sooner. This is also open to patients at Vitalité facilities.

“We have seen over 1,200 patients from the Bathurst and Moncton regions alone in the last year come to the MRH for MRI appointments,” said Zachary Kilburn, Regional Director of Medical Imaging. “We’re aware travelling is not an option for everyone, but for those who have the ability, it’s a great option.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a backlog of MRI appointments, causing patients to wait longer for their appointments. An internal review was done to determine what improvements could be made to decrease wait times and the backlog.

“We chose MRH as the pilot site because they were able to handle the volume of requests in their area, but significant changes could be made to allow them to increase their volume even more so,” said Kilburn. “We worked to ensure patients received quality care while these improvements were underway.”

Improvements will be made to the other four major hospitals later in the year.

“The addition of a new MRI machine at Upper River Valley Hospital in Waterville will also allow us to more than double our current service offering to the community and address the long wait times experienced by patients not only in the Upper River Valley region but across the Fredericton area, by reducing travel to the capital city and other locations for exam completion,” said Foley. “This is truly a fantastic addition to the care that our team can provide to the community and will allow us to further decrease the backlog.”

In 2021-22, Horizon staff performed 643,513 medical imaging exams.

Improving access to care for New Brunswickers is a key priority of Horizon’s plan to ensure all New Brunswickers receive the quality care they need. Reducing the wait times for services, including MRIs, will help improve the overall patient experience for NB patients.

This plan consists of three other priorities, including the retention and recruitment of physicians, nurses and staff; improving overall patient experience; and improving patient flow at our health care facilities. Further details about Horizon’s four priority areas are available at

This initiative also supports the Government of New Brunswick’s provincial health plan,
Stabilizing Health Care: An Urgent Call to Action.

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For more information contact:

Kris McDavid

Media Relations