Hamilton collaboration transforms the future of medical imaging

leaders from McMaster, Mohawk, HHS and St. Joes pose for a standing photo with with Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones.

The new Centre for Integrated and Advanced Imaging aims to cut MRI wait times, improve patient experience and integrate education and clinical care.

Mohawk College and McMaster have announced the opening of a new facility for educational training, imaging research and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that promises to cut wait times and improve patient experience. 

The Centre for Integrated and Advanced Medical Imaging (CIAMI), provides a space where education, clinical care, and research intersect through collaborative and unique models of care and approaches to training that have not been done before in Ontario.

In addition to education and research components, the centre partners with  affiliated academic hospital systems, Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

The centre is an excellent example of working with the community and partners to advance human and societal health and well-being, said McMaster President David Farrar.

“The new CIAMI facility is an excellent example of how close collaboration with our academic partner Mohawk College and our academic hospital partners Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton is helping build a brighter, healthier future for our community.”

In the news

More about the innovative new centre in the Hamilton Spectator

Located at the Mohawk-McMaster Institute of Applied Health Sciences building on McMaster’s main campus, the facility includes a newly installed advanced MRI unit, the second of its kind in Canada.

“The creation of CIAMI provides a clear example of how Mohawk College and McMaster University work together with community partners to everyone’s benefit,” said Mohawk President Ron McKerlie.

“Together, we will conduct research to identify best practices, will offer students exceptional training, and will provide greater access to MRI services for patients. We are excited to move forward on this initiative with our valued partners.”

The Ontario Ministry of Health has provided $5 million in funding over three years to support the creation, development, and testing of the CIAMI model, including funding to operate an MRI for clinical use.

“Our government is continuing our work to build a more connected and convenient health-care system by improving access to services across the province,” Health Minister Sylvia Jones said at the announcement Thursday at McMaster.

“We are proud to partner with McMaster University and Mohawk College to ensure CIAMI has the funds they need to operate their new MRI suite to increase access to diagnostic imaging, reduce wait times and connect patients to the care they need, close to home.”

CIAMI provides a revolutionary approach to cutting wait times and could double the speed of service for patients needing MRI scans.

Currently, the average for MRI scans is 1.54 patients per hour in Ontario, but early CIAMI data from a pilot at St. Joseph’s suggests that could be improved.

CIAMI enables a new model of training with a living lab for interdisciplinary teams to provide education, taking pressure off hospitals for clinical placements while expediting the capability to graduate MRI technologists into the system.

The centre will also be the site for continuing research, with access to innovative technologies and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to enable cutting-edge discoveries. CIAMI brings technology and healthcare together in Hamilton to propel advancements in imaging research.

“We have a backlog of patients waiting for MRI scans in our region, we are facing a health human resource crisis in Ontario, we have challenges in meeting the imaging needs of our hospital in-patients and our researchers need access to equipment that isn’t competing with clinical needs,” said Julian Dobranowski, professor and chair of the Department of Medical Imaging at McMaster and an adjunct professor at Mohawk College.

“CIAMI provides an innovative solution to all of these issues. We are excited to validate this new model of care to enhance patient care across the province.”

The centre presents an exciting opportunity for patients, clinicians and students, said Rob MacIsaac, president of HHS.

“The combined focus on teaching and research will undoubtedly give way to new solutions to some of our health system’s most pressing issues, including healthcare worker shortages and diagnostic imaging wait times. It’s a promising addition to Hamilton’s robust health research and hospital network.”

“Mohawk College focuses on creating future-ready graduates through experiential learning, applied research, and interprofessional education. The Medical Radiation Sciences program, in partnership with the Faculty of Science at McMaster University, is an example of best practice across the country. The joint purchase of an MRI and the creation of CIAMI, as a centre of excellence in the field, will provide game-changing opportunities for our students and offers an entirely novel approach to community patient care.”  — Wendy Lawson, associate vice-president, Academic and dean, School of Health and Community Services, Mohawk College

The new model of care has been piloted at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Imaging Research Center and will continue at CIAMI in the fall.

“The opening of this centre will build on the important partnerships among our educational institutions and health care organizations,” said John Aldis, interim president, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. “It brings together our brightest minds to challenge what we do today, improve the way imaging technologies are used and services are delivered, to benefit patients across our region and beyond.”

CIAMI is supported by funding from Mohawk and McMaster, the Juravinski Research Institute, and a grant from the Government of Ontario’s College Equipment and Renewal Fund (CERF), with additional funding to operate an MRI coming from the province.

GE HealthCare (GEHC), the manufacturer of the MRI that has been installed in the facility, and CIAMI are collaborating on initiatives to increase access to resources to support education and research.

“As healthcare systems continue to grapple with labor shortages and diagnostics wait times, GE HealthCare is committed to creating solutions that address these challenges directly through innovative and sustainable collaborations with our customers. The installation of GE HealthCare’s SIGNA Premier MR platform and the material support for training we will provide at CIAMI will help power their new training model for medical professionals and support CIAMI to improve patient care and outcomes in the Ontario community.”  – Mike Hamilton, president of GE HealthCare in Canada

“CIAMI is certainly a win-win-win for Hamilton,” said Paul O’Byrne, dean of Health Sciences. “Besides offering research opportunities with state-of-the-art technologies and first-class education for students, it will boost the community’s access to advanced health care.”

“The Faculty of Science is proud to continue building on our long-standing collaboration with Mohawk College. The new Centre for Integrated and Advanced Medical Imaging will create even more learning and research opportunities for our students and faculty members while also addressing a real need in our community for timely imaging service.” — Maureen MacDonald, dean, Faculty of Science, McMaster University

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