{Equity in access to MRI equipment: the Portuguese case}

Maia, MJ.  2013.  {Equity in access to MRI equipment: the Portuguese case}, Feb. , Number 02/2013: Universidade Nova de Lisboa, IET/CICS.NOVA-Interdisciplinary Centre on Social Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a method of image diagnose proven to be of undeniable importance when it comes to neuro and cardio related diseases. In fact, these diseases (such as: ischemic heart disease, stroke and acute myocardial infection) have high incidence in Portugal. For these reasons, the allocation of this medical technology should not be considered with light thoughts. In fact, making decision of resource allocation in health care can be a very complex and contested matter. The impacts of new technology allocation, such MRI, can be assessed in a variety of ways. However, a fundamental component should always be present: the use of evidence-based decision-making methods. One of these methods is Technology Assessment (TA). This paper aims to characterize the equity on access of the Portuguese population in general, to a specific medical device such as MRI, under the TA point of view. It is hoped to promote a bridge of scientific knowledge between the gap on research and policy-making through TA that can emerge as a tool to aid decision-makers in the organization of health systems. There are gaps in providing healthcare, due to geographical imbalances, with some areas unable to provide certain specialized services, as hospitals in the countryside do not provide all medical specialties. Portugal has also a large independent private sector that provides diagnostic and therapeutic services to NHS users under contracts called conventions. These medical contracts cover ambulatory health facilities for laboratory tests and examinations such as diagnostic tests and Radiology. However, there is no convention from the NHS when concerning the MRI exam. Therefore, this reality can be considered a limitation in the access of the general population to this kind of clinical exam. TA can play an useful and important role in helping the decision-makers to explore potential gains that might be achieved by introducing a more rational decision making into health care ma



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