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Accessibility To Mobile PET-CT Scans Now Within Reach

Mobile Health Group and Mercy Radiology are positioned to increase patient accessibility to PET-CT scans by delivering Mobile Imaging - Australasia’s first mobile PET-CT. This will see thousands of cancer patients benefit from the arrival of new mobile diagnostic technology while helping to improve access to healthcare for priority populations, which include provincial and rural areas.

Accessible to both public and private patients, Mobile Imaging is set to be on the road in March 2024 and transported across Aotearoa New Zealand in regions with high demand, and locations with limited access to a permanent facility.

Mark Eager, Chief Executive of Mobile Health Group says, “While PET-CT imaging is becoming increasingly available in metropolitan areas, it is unlikely that a permanent fixed installation will be available outside of larger urban areas. There has been a call to provide a mobile PET-CT service for several years to address the inequity of access to scans. Mobile Imaging is about providing patients with accessibility and removing barriers such as travel expenses, or the inability to travel due to ill health.”

Eager adds, “We have developed this joint venture with Mercy Radiology who are bringing their expertise to the areas of need by providing equity of access to cancer care, and Mobile Health Group is providing our experience in the delivery of mobile health vehicles. We are currently working with Te Whatu Ora to establish the sites to visit and a contract.”

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The mobile PET-CT unit can conduct traditional CT scans. However, patients who receive a small amount of radiotracer can have a more advanced hybrid PET-CT scan (Positron Emission Tomography). Positron emission tomography is a highly sensitive imaging procedure used to study specific areas or the whole body. There are six PET-CT scanners in the country located in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and Christchurch. Although several other sites are planned, around half of the New Zealand population lives outside of these cities.

Dr. Remy Lim, Medical Director of Mercy Radiology says, “We recognised that there is a geographical barrier to accessing a PET-CT facility. Regional New Zealanders are often expected to travel significant distances between their homes and the closest PET-CT facility. As a result, people who live in regional centres are more likely to encounter barriers to early assessment and treatment monitoring for their cancer. What region you reside in should not matter when accessing your PET-CT scan.”

Dr Lim adds, “Patients onboard the mobile unit will also have an advanced digital PET-CT scan which produces superior images for a more accurate diagnosis and evaluation of disease. The digital PET scanner is a major step up from old-style analog PET cameras. Another innovation is that a PSMA PET-CT scan, used to identify the extent of prostate cancer, can be safely produced onboard the mobile unit.”

Being the first mobile PET-CT in Australasia, Dr Lim says that the mobile concept is being watched with interest by many. “Partnering with Mobile Health Group enables us to focus on the digital imaging side and quality of service without having to worry about logistics. Mobile Health Group is an innovative organisation that has the clever ability to come up with solutions to every challenge. It gives me great confidence to deliver mobile PET-CT while improving accessibility for New Zealanders.”

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