Canada lags G7 in use of
– Canada lags far behind all other G7 countries in the use of
interventional medicine, to the detriment of its population’s health and
social productivity, according to a new study released by the Canadian
Association of Radiologists (CAR), in conjunction with the Canadian
Interventional Radiologists Association (CIRA).
Through the use of interventional radiology (IR) treatments, close to
$300 million in savings to the Canadian healthcare system could be
realized, the study forecasts.
Moreover, the support and adoption of IR in Canada could eliminate
98,000 in-hospital patient days, which means that 13,400 patient wait
times for needed surgery could be eliminated immediately.
The CAR is urging the federal and provincial governments to move quickly
to redress inefficiencies in the Canadian healthcare system and make
care increasingly patient-centered.
The benchmark study from Millennium Research Group (MRG) concludes that
on average, G7 countries such as Germany, the UK, France and Italy
practice more than twice as many interventional radiology treatments
than Canada, where long-term medication and invasive procedures are
The Canadian healthcare system’s antiquated administrative structure
means that Canadians are more likely to be prescribed long-term
pharmacological treatments and more invasive surgeries than their G7
counterparts for the treatment of the same medical conditions.
“An osteoporotic patient that suffered a vertebral compression fracture
(VCF) often spends years on heavy medication with back braces and
frequent visits to an emergency room, or to a doctor, only to manage the
pain, with an annual cost of more than $6,000 to the healthcare system.
“In comparison, a vertebroplasty, which can easily treat definitively
the condition within a few days, represents a cost to the hospital of
less than $1,000, but is ironically considered too costly,” said Dr.
Peter Collingwood, president of CIRA.
“This is only one of many examples of how the Canadian health system’s
administrative structure, with its narrow focus, is concerned only with
internal budgets and not global social costs and what is best for the
patient,” he continued. “As a direct consequence, the use of less
invasive and less costly interventional radiology procedures is
seriously underdeveloped in our country and Canadians continue to endure
prolonged and unnecessary suffering.”
Today’s healthcare issues threaten to become increasingly acute within
the next decade as the baby boomer population ages. The MRG study
concludes that as a result of a faster ageing population in Canada,
compared to other G7 nations, we will see the demand for treatment of
those vascular and non-vascular diseases increase rapidly.
“Interventional radiology offers a potential saving of costs and an
increased efficiency that will become absolutely necessary if we want to
meet the demand for those medical treatments,” declared Normand Laberge
CEO of the Canadian Association of Radiologists.
The study also points to the fact that with access to online
information, baby-boomers will rapidly start to demand access to
procedures which have proven to be successful elsewhere. “Unless
governments step in now, our healthcare system is in danger of not being
ready to meet the demand that will come when the population realizes
that ‘surgery with no scars’ is a reality, with impressive benefits both
to patient well-being and to society as a whole,” said Mr. Laberge.
The CAR is urging the federal government to create a Canadian
Interventional Radiology Task Force (CIRTF), which would allow for the
creation of interventional radiology best-practices in Canada.
The CIRTF would evaluate cost-effectiveness of IR procedures in the
Canadian healthcare system, refine strategies for the creation of IR
centres of excellence in order to stimulate the development of the
field, and make recommendations which would allow Canada to become a
leader in interventional medicine among G7 nations.
What is interventional radiology?
Interventional radiology is the sub-specialty of diagnostic radiology
devoted to advancing patient care using minimally invasive, image-guided
techniques to treat a vast array of vascular and non-vascular diseases.
It has been described as keyhole surgery or “surgery with no scars.” IR
leads to improved patient outcomes, decreased morbidity and mortality,
more cost efficient treatments and shorter hospital stays.
Interventional procedures include chemoembolization and radiofrequency
ablation for the treatment of cancer tumours, the treatment of uterine
fibroid by embolization, vertebroplasty to repair damaged vertebra,
stenting and balloon angioplasty for the treatment of arterial disease.