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Osteoarthritis: Be aware of a better care option

by Dr. Joshua Tepper

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and a leading cause of disability.

With an estimated 5.6 million Canadians suffering from osteoarthritis and that number expected to increase significantly as the population ages, the condition still has no cure and can be difficult to manage effectively. In Ontario, people with osteoarthritis report a quality of life 10% to 25% lower than those without osteoarthritis, and they incur health care costs two to three times higher. Despite the seriousness of this situation, osteoarthritis is often underdiagnosed and undertreated.

Osteoarthritis is just one of several musculoskeletal conditions that affects one in three Ontario adults. Recently released wait-time data that can be found on the Health Quality Ontario website shows that patients with these conditions spend the most time waiting to access health-care services, like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) even though that may not be the best treatment option. In addition, uncontrolled knee, hip and back pain has been associated with inappropriate use of opioids.

To address this, an approach to redesign and innovate the current model of care in Ontario will help people access the right treatment faster, starting with osteoarthritis and other conditions causing hip, knee and low-back pain.

MyPractice: My Primary Care

Dr. David Kaplan

According to a recent report from Health Quality Ontario, 9 Million Prescriptions, one in seven Ontarians fills a prescription for opioids every year. More than 9 million prescriptions for opioids were filled in the province in 2015/16. Canada remains the second-largest consumer of prescription opioids in the world, after the US.

Unfortunately, many patients are receiving these highly addictive drugs, from both legitimate and illicit sources, with only questionable benefit. This is a complex problem involving many health care providers and many interwoven factors compounding the situation.

While physicians are faced with the challenges of treating patients with often complex disorders and few resources, more appropriate prescribing by all physicians is part of the solution.

Involving Patients to Improve Primary Care

Dr. Tara Kiran

Ten years ago, I gave birth in hospital to my first child – a healthy, beautiful baby girl.

I still remember looking into her eyes for the first time and I still remember what it was like to be a patient. I remember wanting to provide feedback to someone about my experiences – both the good (great breastfeeding support) and the bad (being woken before dawn for a blood pressure check). But there was never any opportunity.

Connecting the Dots in Primary Care

Dr. David Kaplan

Bringing quality to primary care is a daunting task.

But, for the committed family doctors, nurse practitioners and other health care practitioners who provide care to more than 13.5 million people in the province on a daily basis, the magnitude of opportunity to do better is great.

Choosing Wisely for Better Care

Health care quality is defined as a health system that is safe, effective, patient-centred, timely, efficient, and equitable and the Choosing Wisely Canada campaign aligns with these goals.

Delivering high-quality care is about more than just appropriately providing care to those who require it in an equitable and safe fashion. It is also about not providing treatments, procedures or tests that are deemed to be unnecessary, or potentially harmful to patients.

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