IT IS THERFORE RESOLVED THAT AUMA advocate for the Government of Alberta to urge the College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPSA) to change their current practice to allow communities within a 100-kilometre radius of Alberta major cities to install diagnostic imaging and/or interventional radiology as they determine it to be useful, requisite, or fundamental to serving the needs of their respective communities.
WHEREAS communities within the 100-kilometre radius of major Alberta cities are not allowed certain medical imaging or interventional radiology, which negatively impacts some communities;
WHEREAS the current standards for diagnostic medical imaging are outdated, and technology has now advanced to the point that medical imaging can be done with ease from any place where reliable technology can be accessed;
WHEREAS the lack of such resources causes significant stress to rural and suburban populations whose members must expend great amounts of time and effort to travel to cities to access diagnostic imaging and interventional radiology; and
WHEREAS communities such as Strathmore must utilize significant amounts of funding for ambulance and other medical transport such as Handi-Bus.
The current standards of diagnostic medical imaging guidelines prohibit the deployment of diagnostic medical imaging equipment within a one-hundred-kilometer radius of a major city (50,000 population). Sending patients to larger centers for basic services is disruptive, and very costly. Using geography to evaluate safety is very detrimental and creates a gap in service to citizens of rural populations.
Allowing medical imaging within the one-hundred-kilometer radius would provide for ultrasound services to communities such as Strathmore and other rural populations. Advancements in technology have made these services practical and readily available. A change in policy would ensure these services are available to residents without the extra burden of travel which is unsafe and costly.
The response from the Minister of Health notes that the CPSA standard in question “does not prevent communities from setting up CPSA-accredited diagnostic imaging facilities or equipment at any location within the province, as long as the specific current accreditation criteria is met.” The Minister also observes the CPSA is currently reviewing its remote diagnostic imaging standards to improve accessibility and to reflect technological advances in diagnostic imaging, and that a revision to the current standards is underway.
While the Minister correctly observes that the CPSA standard does not prevent communities from setting up diagnostic imaging facilities anywhere in the province, many smaller communities struggle to attract and retain medical personnel, particularly specialists. Accordingly, this standard does pose a barrier with respect to equitable access to health care for many communities.
AUMA administration reached out to the CPSA and learned that AUMA would be welcome to submit thoughts on behalf of municipal governments as to how diagnostic imaging can be made more accessible outside of major centres. This can be done by either completing or submitting an online Standards Revision Request Form or providing feedback directly to the CPSA. AUMA provided a copy of the resolution and Minister’s response to the CPSA on March 2, 2020.