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Canada’s Chiropractors Well-Positioned to Achieve Meaningful Cost Savings on Medical Imaging

August 01, 2013
Toronto (August 1, 2013) – Canada’s chiropractors fully support the announcement by Canada’s Premiers at the Council of the Federation meeting on July 26, 2013 that provincial and territorial governments plan to work together on developing guidelines to counter unnecessary diagnostic imaging.Spending on medical imaging in Canada has been rising sharply in recent years. The Council of the Federation has provided the estimate that 10 to 20% of these tests may be unnecessary. The Council of the Federation has committed to developing new guidelines for practitioners, which may lead to reductions in unnecessary diagnostic tests. Chiropractors are uniquely well-positioned to help territorial and provincial governments achieve meaningful cost savings in this large expenditure area.

Recent studies have found that lower back pain is at the top of the list for potential savings . Instead of referring for diagnostic imaging, best practice may include referring patients to a local spinal care pathway (a team of experts usually including chiropractors) for assessment and management. Ninety per cent of patients who are referred to spinal specialists are not candidates for surgery, and many patients wait months for their imaging and consultation only to be sent back to their physician. Spinal pathways can provide a timely assessment to determine the appropriate care needed to address a patient’s condition. Quicker assessment would allow patients to get the appropriate care sooner.

Chiropractors are already playing a central role in care pathway teams across Canada. These teams are reducing diagnostic costs and unnecessary surgery. In Ontario, a recent pilot project evaluated the benefits of involving chiropractors in a primary care team-based setting, by assessing patients with low back pain and discussing treatment options with the patient’s family physician. The results included reductions in both MRIs and surgical referrals.

The Canadian Association of Radiologists guidelines recognize that for many patients conservative treatment of back pain should be considered before diagnostic imaging. The clinical focus of chiropractic care is this kind of conservative treatment.

“When Canadians suffer from low back pain, they want answers as soon as possible about the best way of getting relief. The Council of the Federation goals are achievable if there is better guidance on alternatives to unnecessary diagnostic tests,” said Dr. Jeff Warren, DC, President of the Canadian Chiropractic Association. “Care pathways that include chiropractors are showing better outcomes at a lower cost.”

Chiropractors welcome the opportunity to be part of efforts to provide Canadians suffering from back pain the right care, at the right time, by the right provider. These conditions are the largest burden of illness on the Canadian economy , and the second largest source of missed days of work in North America.

The chiropractic profession will be providing full support to the efforts of the provincial and territorial governments to develop new guidelines and tools to increase the appropriateness of diagnostic imaging, including referral options to help Canadians suffering from low back pain.

About the Canadian Chiropractic Association
The Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) represents Canada’s 7,000 licensed doctors of chiropractic. The CCA advocates on behalf of members and their patients to advance the quality and accessibility of chiropractic care in Canada, and to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the health care system.



Media Contact:
Ronda Parkes
Director, Marketing & Communications
Canadian Chiropractic Association
416-585-7902 ext. 242

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