Rads ask Ottawa to invest $625 million in new gear
December 5, 2018
OTTAWA – The Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) has published a pre-budget submission that asks the federal government to take a leadership role in four key areas. They include the renewal of Canada’s aging stock of diagnostic imaging equipment, and the CAR is asking Ottawa to invest $625 million over five years to upgrade medical imaging modalities.
CAR President Dr. Emil Lee (pictured), said, “A modest investment from government in modern equipment and research will have a significant gain in improving patient outcomes and ultimately make medical imaging more accessible for Canadians.”
Dr. Lee, who is himself an interventional radiologist based in Langley, B.C., said some provinces like British Columbia are investing in imaging equipment – in particular, in MRIs. But many provinces may not have the financial capacity.
“We feel that the federal government could invest in equipment across the country, and level the playing field for all Canadians,” he said.
He noted that in discussions with MPs on Parliament Hill, all were positive about the idea and were supportive of the CAR’s funding request.
The other three priorities for the federal government include:
- Partnering with the CAR to develop a strategy involving radiology for the eradication of tuberculosis in Inuit communities. The CAR is asking for a $3 million investment in 2019 on this front.
- Investing in a pan-Canadian Clinical Decision Support System for referral guidelines and appropriateness of medical imaging in Canada. The CAR would like to see Ottawa invest $9 million over three years to fund projects for imaging referrals.
- Investing in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in radiology and assuming a leadership role in establishing an ethical framework for the implementation for technology.
The strategy asks for $10.5 million over three years to begin establishing federal frameworks to regulate the implementation of AI tools in medicine and healthcare.
In an interview, Dr. Lee said the higher incidence of TB in northern communities could be combated best through the use of telemedicine, so that Inuit patients need not travel south outside their communities.
Indeed, an investment of $ 3 million dollars could work wonders, he said.
Dr. Lee and his colleagues believe that Canada could also benefit from a strategy for the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare.
He noted that Canada has great strengths in Deep Learning and other forms of AI, but that a legal and ethical framework should be developed for the use of information. One of the challenges in creating AI-based solutions is in developing large, curated data sets from which computers can compare and refine clinical findings.
“This is a process that will take time,” said Dr. Lee. “We need to ensure that we collect this data in a way that does not breach patient privacy. We need the government to put an ethical framework in place to address these very important issues.”
As the voice of radiologists in Canada, it is the CAR’s desire to work with multiple stakeholders, including patients and government, to advance radiology and expand existing infrastructures.
For more information on the CAR’s pre-budget submission, see https://car.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/CAR-PreBudgetSubmission-2018_FINAL.pdf.