Canadian healthcare is plagued by long wait times, especially in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Provinces have attempted a variety of policy responses to this issue over the years with minimal success. Most attempts have focused on increasing MRI supply in either the private or public sectors. Past private sector attempts to increase supply have involved offering privately paid and delivered MRI in Alberta and contracting publicly paid MRI to private clinics in Ontario.1 Most recently, Saskatchewan legislated the use of privately paid and delivered MRI, contingent on private clinics performing one publicly paid scan for each private scan.2 As this study finds, these policy responses have not resulted in meaningful MRI wait time reduction. Since increasing private supply has failed to reduce wait times, this study also examines increasing public supply through funding injections. This strategy has also been employed in Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan, as well as at the federal level, to no avail.
Since policies to increase MRI supply have largely failed, this study proposes the alternative option of decreasing MRI demand to lower wait times. This study argues that decreasing MRI demand is a more cost-effective and immediate solution to Alberta's continually increasing wait times.3 It also suggests the past provincial policy efforts have contributed to the lack of meaningful wait time reduction and proposes a cohesive national strategy to guide MRI demand reduction policy. The internationally enacted campaign Choosing Wisely is examined as a template for this strategy. This study thus concludes that reducing MRI demand through a campaign such as Choosing Wisely is the best focus of resources to realize meaningful, permanent MRI wait time reduction.