The OAC Board of Directors welcomes this opportunity to reflect on the past year and outline plans for our Association’s continued progress in 2022-23.
The 2021-22 membership year was filled with many achievements and challenges. In October 2021, we welcomed the addition of Dr. Chris Overgaard to the OAC Board of Directors, broadening the specialty’s representation on our Association’s Executive. We experienced a 13% increase in membership over 2020-21, which we look forward to building on in 2022-23.
From an advocacy perspective, the OAC succeeded in preventing cuts to Cardiology fees in the 2021 Physician Services Agreement (PSA), ratified in March 2022; in fact, Ontario’s cardiologists will see professional fee increases over the next three years for the first time in a decade, in addition to modest increases in non-hospital technical fees. We also made significant strides toward restoring funding for congestive heart failure patient care, equalizing follow-up assessment fees with other OMA Sections, enhancing the A605 fee code, and creating a new expense recovery fee for out-of-hospital ambulatory care.
We celebrated the introduction of public funding for NT-proBNP testing in community labs, which will continue on a pilot project basis until March 2023. The Association also welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with the Canadian Society of Echocardiography (CSE) to create the Dr. James (Jim) Swan Lecture at the CSE’s 24th Annual Weekend (February 4-6, 2022) in honour of the OAC’s former long-time president who passed away in June 2021.
At the same time, our Association experienced several challenges including navigating an ongoing impasse with the EQI Program’s accreditation body (Accreditation Canada) over the contract it requires echocardiography facilities to sign to maintain their status in the program; and, seeking changes to proposed changes imposed under the 2021 PSA that fundamentally restrict the provision of virtual care services in Ontario.
As we look ahead to 2022-23, the OAC will focus its efforts on continued organizational growth and advocacy initiatives that include the following:
- Maintain funding for telephone-based new patient virtual visits and follow-up virtual visits beyond October 1, 2022 to ensure that all Ontario patients, regardless of their digital proficiency, economic circumstances, and geographic location, have access to the full suite of virtual care services.
- Use the 2021 PSA specialty allocation process to enhance existing or support the introduction of new Cardiology fee codes in the OHIP Schedule of Benefits.
- Protect the interests of echocardiography facilities and the integrity of the EQI program.
- Expand group purchasing program opportunities to include more products and supplies critical to community-based cardiology practices.
The OAC recognizes and understands the challenges facing our members. Our number one priority is serving as the voice of our members and advocating on your behalf whether you work in an academic health sciences centre, a community hospital, an outpatient ambulatory clinic, or in solo practice.
The OAC is small compared to many health care professional organizations but, for more than 25 years, our Association has maintained a strong presence on the Ontario health care landscape. As a voluntary professional organization, separate and distinct from the OMA, the OAC works to shape the direction of cardiologist-led patient care in the province through strong advocacy, professional leadership, and partnerships with standards development and accreditation organizations. Our mission is to make Ontario the best place to practice cardiology and receive high quality cardiac patient care.
The OAC’s Board of Directors would like to thank all OAC members for the confidence that they have bestowed upon it. We look forward to working on your behalf to achieve our shared priorities in 2022-23.