Who We Are
The Ontario Association of Cardiologists is a voluntary professional organization representing Ontario cardiologists. Our board and members work each day with the provincial government, the Ontario Medical Association and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to advocate for the specialty of Cardiology, to maintain and improve the quality of cardiac care in Ontario
Without OMA approval, the OAC began direct consultations with the government to change the definition of self-referral for noninvasive cardiac testing to appropriateness based guidelines.
The past 25 years has seen an exponential growth in knowledge regarding cardiovascular medicine that has made available an ever-expanding number of newer and better options for treating virtually every cardiac condition. World class cardiovascular care requires both an in depth knowledge of all the treatment options available, and the experience and expertise to distill this knowledge in order to help each patient select the options that are best for them. Ontario cardiologists save and improve cardiac patient lives every day using new and current treatment options so Ontario Patients continue to get world class cardiac care.
Why We Exist
The OAC exists independently of OMA to ensure the voice of cardiology is heard loud and clear regarding issues that affect the care of cardiac patients in Ontario. While all cardiologists in Ontario are required to be members of the Ontario Medical Association, the OMA does not provide its Section on Cardiology with the financial resources or the infrastructure to allow it to act as an effective advocate for the specialty of Cardiology. The OAC fills this gap, and without its ongoing advocacy program the continued high standard of cardiac care in Ontario is at risk. The OAC is working hard within the OMA to resolve our differences. Unfortunately our efforts to date have not been very successful, but we remain committed to resolving these issues in a proactive manner.
The OAC advocates on behalf of its members using constructive interactive dialogue with the MOHLTC , the OMA and the Ontario Government regarding implementation of the recent advances in cardiac care. The OAC believes these can be provided to Ontarians in a cost-effective way using appropriate use and evidence-based guidelines. Our approach has been to engage all stakeholders in a collaborative way, and provide cardiology specialty-based expertise and guidance that will help them to develop policies that will ensure the current high quality of cardiac care is not only maintained but improved in the future for Ontario cardiac patients. All the while, we want to ensure cardiologists are treated fairly in the process.
A Recent Example
In May 2012, the provincial government stopped ongoing negotiations with the OMA and passed an Order in Council that changed the definition of self-referral for noninvasive cardiac diagnostic testing. The new definition would have:
- Made it financially impossible for cardiologists whether they were in a small community or part of a large multi-specialty group in the University or hospital environment to perform noninvasive cardiac testing on their own patients.
- Caused at least 50% of the noninvasive cardiac testing facilities in the province to disappear under that legislation.
- Devastatingly impacted patients, leading to prolonged wait times for the necessary cardiac testing critical to assist in the correct cardiac diagnosis and treatment decisions. Some patients would have died before the appropriate noninvasive cardiac test was carried out.
Concerned of cardiac patient morbidity and mortality, The OAC and OMA section on cardiology asked the OMA Board to intervene, and the OMA refused. Without OMA approval, the OAC began direct consultations with the government to change the definition of self-referral for noninvasive cardiac testing to appropriateness based guidelines. As part of this process the OAC told the stories of many Ontario heart patients whose lives would have been negatively affected by the new rules. An OAC-initiated petition regarding this was signed by 70,000 patients, and was delivered to Queen’s Park with a demand that the government substitute appropriateness guidelines for their proposed definition of self-referral.
The Rubin Committee has continued its work outside echocardiography, and with each modality they have examined to date they have recommended appropriate guidelines be the indication for the test. The OAC continues to press the OMA, CCN and government regarding the need for the implementation of appropriateness guidelines for noninvasive cardiac testing (The standards for the Provision of Echocardiography in Ontario), thus ensuring the right people get the right testing, at the right time, by the right people, using the right equipment, for the right reasons, in an accredited facility. The OAC believes this is the best way to ensure ongoing high quality cardiac care for Ontarians is delivered in a cost effective manner in a time of fiscal restraint.
Members of the OAC include many of the top cardiologists in the world. Together we believe in an ongoing dialogue that ensures the latest proven technologies and techniques are available to all Ontarians and that compensation is reasonable and fair. We regularly meet and interact with the OMA, the Cardiac Care Network, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and government parties. We offer our expertise and a wealth of experience and knowledge at each opportunity. We believe in mutual trust, respect and an open, frank ongoing dialogue involving everyone, including the public, is the only way to ensure patient access to our current high quality cardiac care is never jeopardized. We welcome your input and support.
The acronyms and overlapping responsibilities of the various groups involved can be confusing. Please see our Definitions page.
Our membership is diverse, comprising community cardiologists in solo or group practice (Heart Health Institute, Collingwood Cardiology) and university-affiliated cardiologists, including entire Cardiology Divisions of Health Sciences Centers (e.g. University Health Network; Ottawa Heart; St. Michael’s Hospital). With representation from small and large communities, we strongly believe in the guiding principle of the Cardiac Care Network of Ontario, which is that all Ontario patients, regardless of where they live, should have equal access to cardiac care services in Ontario.