Canada lags on adoption of interventional radiology

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The findings from a report commissioned by the Canadian Interventional Radiology Association (CIRA) and carried out by the Millennium Research Group (MRG) indicate that Canada lags behind other industrialised countries in the G7 such as Europe, USA and Japan in the adoption of interventional radiology treatment. Canada received formal recognition as a clinical subspecialty for interventional radiology in 2013.

“The lower-than-average adoption of interventional radiology in Canada is problematic for the Canadian healthcare system, because interventional radiology has been shown to reduce patient hospital stays, reduce the need for follow-up, and reduce patient costs,” the report finds. The report also points out that there is significant room for improvement in Canada in terms of adoption of interventional radiology procedures and finds that the lag in adoption is due to a multitude of factors including healthcare funding, lack of physician resources and lack of awareness about interventional radiology procedures.

MRG analysed eleven key therapy areas in interventional radiology to determine the value that treatment brings to both patients and the healthcare system. Additionally, a cost analysis of minimally-invasive interventional radiology therapy relative to the surgical alternative was conducted for three therapy areas including: lower extremity peripheral arterial disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, and interventional oncology for hepatocellular carcinoma. For the cost analysis, US Medicare claims records were analysed for hospital charges, as well as patient metrics such as lengths of stay, complications and mortality.

Several factors hinder adoption

Based on the results of the research, MRG analysed that healthcare funding in Canada dissuades the adoption of interventional radiology. The Canadian government and hospital administrators should revise the system of budget allocation towards interventional radiology procedures by providing separate funding for these treatments, they recommended.

They also found that interventional radiologists are overworked, but must dedicate more time to improving their clinical practice. In order for this to take place, MRG recommended that Canadian hospitals should increase interventional radiology support staffing, including nurses, technologists and administrative assistants.

Another key area identified by the report was that more interventional radiologists should be trained and hired to keep up with the current and future demands on the interventional radiology departments of Canadian hospitals. In order to meet this requirement, the awareness of interventional radiology must improve and CIRA should continue to play an active role in the development of the subspecialty in Canada through interventional radiology-based education and training. MRG further recommended that CIRA should partner with other physician groups to drive patient and physician awareness of interventional radiology.

“The Canadian government and healthcare facilities should make efforts to take advantage of interventional radiology’s value in order to reduce financial strain and improve patient care”, the report concludes.