MAGNETIC Resonance Imaging (MRI) will be more widely available in regional areas due to policy changes which came into effect on November 1.
General practitioners are now allowed to refer children under the age of 16 directly to MRI services.
Previously MRI referral could only come from a medical specialist.
President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists, Associate Professor Dinesh Varma, said the changes made the process more efficient and avoided unnecessary exposure of children to radiation.
“It will allow doctors to be able to choose the right test,” he said.
“It’s still something we need to try and improve with the government so we can utilise MRIs more rather than equipment with radiation.”
Professor Varma said the government had also agreed to increase the amount of MRIs in metro and non-metro areas.
There are now 30 MRI machines in regional areas, with government plans to roll out eight more over the next four years.
MRIs can provide Medicare-reimbursed images for cancer staging and breast screening services for women at risk.
He said it would be especially beneficial for rural residents.
“It will lessen the amount of travel to metropolitan areas for people requiring an MRI,” he said.
“It’s a very important move for patient care.”