CAR President Dr. Gilles Soulez Shares Highlights from This Past Year
The last two years have been challenging for the radiology community. The pandemic had a dramatic impact on healthcare delivery and changed the way radiologists practice. It also exacerbated the extensive wait times experienced by patients for medical imaging. Even with procedures returning to full capacity, pandemic protocols, while necessary, have added to the time it takes to complete medical imaging tests. There is also some apprehension from patients to undergo imaging and to enter health facilities. The shortage of human resources in radiology departments continues to be a significant factor, limiting our productivity across the country. As a result, patients are now waiting even longer than before, creating a desperate situation for imaging in Canada. We are also seeing high levels of burnout among radiology professionals, which is unsettling. Despite these stresses, the radiology community has evolved and demonstrated leadership during this difficult time and the CAR has adapted to offer improved access to resources for our members.
Raising the Bar on Education
During the pandemic the CAR shifted its efforts to focus on providing enhanced member value through online resources. We ramped up our guidelines and took on new projects including the development of a Lung Cancer Screening Program, education on Abnormal Call Rate for Breast Imaging, and the development of Canadian Referral Guidelines. While these projects are ongoing, we have made excellent progress. In addition, we shifted all our education to virtual. In 2021 and 2022 we had extremely successful virtual Annual Scientific Meetings (ASM), welcoming over 700 participants to each event, we amplified our offerings on RAD Academy – the CAR’s learning management system, and delivered a series of webinars for members focused on various subspecialties in radiology. Our Affiliate Societies emerged as leaders in this space and championed several education projects. We also successfully implemented the online CAR Mammography Accreditation Program. The CAR’s 2023 ASM is right around the corner, taking place from April 27-30 in Montreal. This meeting will be in-person, allowing participants to network with their peers and enjoy high quality medical education.
The CAR Journal has also grown leaps and bounds and continues to flourish. Under Dr. Michael Patlas’ (Editor-in-Chief) leadership and a talented editorial board, we have increased the number of submissions to the journal and raised the overall impact factor by 300% since 2017, currently sitting at 4.186.
$1 Billion Over Three Years in Medical Imaging
A $1 billion investment in medical imaging equipment and health human resources is at the forefront of our priorities. A Nanos Poll conducted in early 2022 found that nine out of ten Canadians support the federal government making new investments in MI to reduce wait times. Meanwhile, over 53% of Canadians say wait times to access diagnostic imaging have worsened since the pandemic started, with only 3% of respondents responding that wait times had improved. In an announcement made by the Federal Minister of Health in March 2022, it was promised that $2 billion in new funding would be provided to clear the backlog for healthcare including diagnostics. We were very happy to see this announcement and understand that some of this funding was used by provincial governments to purchase new equipment. This, however, does not meet the threshold of equipment required nor does it address the health human resource challenges. The CAR was invited to participate in a Healthcare Workforce Summit hosted by Health Canada. While this was an excellent opportunity to convene various healthcare representative groups, further work needs to be done to come up with key deliverables to ensure that we have a plan for long-term sustainability of healthcare including radiology services for patients.
On November 15th the CAR hosted its seventh Day on the Hill. We had the opportunity to meet with over 25 Members of Parliament and Senators. Since then, we have been in communication and reiterated our advocacy priorities as included in our 2023 Pre-Budget Submission. We also have formed an alliance with our partner national radiology societies including the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists and Sonography Canada. With the support of these groups and the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network, the CAR published a multistakeholder brief that includes shared recommendations to address the healthcare delivery challenges in radiology. We are working with key opinion leaders from across the country to accelerate the implementation of clinical decision support systems and develop Canadian referral guidelines aimed towards referring health practitioners to ensure all patients have access to the right test at the right time.
We continue to work with our provincial counterparts across the country to raise awareness for radiologists and the importance of medical imaging in Canada. We have expanded on our existing partnerships and have led several successful campaigns including Breast Cancer Awareness, National MRT Week and International Day of Radiology. The coverage on social media was extensive. It is initiatives such as these that help to define the value that medical imaging can bring to the healthcare system as well as raise awareness for our role in providing lifesaving patient care. We also signed an agreement with the Canadian Heads of Academic Radiologist to increase our collaboration to further improve our educational and research portfolios. Thanks to the leadership of Dr. Kiana Label, Chair of our Resident Fellow Section, we are providing high calibre educational content to our trainees and mentoring opportunities. There has been significant effort made to train and engage medical students under the CAR’s Medical Student Network to attract the best students in our specialty and to help educate our future referring professionals to order relevant imaging for patients.
Recognizing Our Members
With the support of our members and a dedicated team of staff and volunteers, I believe we have emerged stronger than ever before. The work that we continue to do in improving patient care is first class. The commitment that radiologists have demonstrated is recognized not only in Canada but internationally.
Special acknowledgement goes to our Board of Directors who have done an amazing job in representing their peers and for being the voice of radiology in Canada. Shout out to Dr. Ania Kielar, CAR Vice-President, Dr. Alison Harris, Secretary and Treasurer, Dr. Carolyn Flegg, Board Chair and Dr. Mike Barry, CAR Past President who have presented themselves in a professional manner through our advocacy efforts and paved the way for this good work. We are privileged to be supported by an outstanding staff led by Nick Neuheimer, CEO. Kudos to the whole team. I personally have learned a lot from this collaboration, and it is always a pleasure working with them!
Our focus on advocacy, education, guideline development and building strong partnerships in the medical community is what continues to help the CAR to position radiology at the forefront of patient care. While my term of President is nearing an end (April 2023), I am predicting a stellar year in 2023. I thoroughly enjoy representing my peers at a national level and am impressed by the expertise and dedication of radiologists across the country.
As always, we could not do what we do without our members, and we are grateful for your continued support and leadership. We have already embarked on a strategic planning mission, and we are hoping to share the CAR’s priorities over the next five years in the new year.
Wishing you and your families a safe and happy holiday season.
Dr. Gilles Soulez, MD, MSc, FRCPC, FSIR
President of the Canadian Association of Radiologists