Dr. Steve Gillis

Your Acclaimed Board Candidates Answer Three Townhall Questions

1. What do you think is currently the most important opportunity (or highest priority) for the chiropractic profession in Ontario and why?

Hospitals are at or exceeding capacity, routine surgeries are being cancelled, and the wait time to see a medical doctor, either in-person or virtually, is well beyond reasonable.  Ontarians are waiting in queues for healthcare services, and the lines are getting longer.  I hear about these concerns both inside and outside my practice every day.  The COVID pandemic has exponentially accelerated some of the challenges that already existed within our health care landscape, but nonetheless, the people of Ontario deserve better.

As primary contact health care providers, chiropractors are well positioned to help alleviate some of the capacity issues facing our province.  Getting musculoskeletal (MSK) patients out of the ER / family physician offices and into a chiropractor’s office is one of the obvious ways chiropractic can assist with the current capacity crisis.  The challenge with this solution is that despite our efforts to increase chiropractic utilization, research has demonstrated that utilization has effectively remained unchanged across different countries and regions from 1980-2015 with a 12-month utilization rate of 9.1%.¹  This challenge is further confounded by the recent research on perceptions of Canadian family physicians’ attitudes towards chiropractic.² MSK complaints, particularly low back pain, are common in primary care and are what the general public and most physicians typically associate with chiropractic.  The question then becomes if we are MSK experts, and low back pain is one of the more common presentations in a primary care setting, why are we seeing less than 10% of the population?

We must continue to develop new and innovative programs that educate the public about chiropractic and its benefits if utilization is to rise.

While I celebrate the diversity within our profession, being unified in our messaging to the public and allied health care providers is paramount.  To help offload the capacity crisis from physicians we need to embrace the CCA position with an emphasis on promoting interprofessional collaboration through integration with health teams. Continued and ongoing education of these physicians can hopefully change the paradox that most Canadian family physicians endorse chiropractic care as a valuable supplement to conventional medicine yet only 1 in 8 reported working/collaborating with a chiropractor.²  Interprofessional collaboration has been shown to be associated with better patient satisfaction and outcomes.  Furthermore, preliminary studies have suggested that collaboration between chiropractors and physicians may reduce use of Rx medications, including opioids, unnecessary imaging and inappropriate referrals for surgical consultation.

[1] Beliveau PJH, Wong JJ, Sutton DA, et al. The chiropractic profession: a scoping review of utilization rates, reasons for seeking care, patient profiles, and care provided.  Chiropractic and Manual Therapies. 2017;25:35.
[2] Busse JW et al. Attitudes towards chiropractic: a repeated cross-sectional survey of Canadian family physicians.  BMC Family Practice. 2021;22:188.

2. What do you think is the most important role OCA can play during the next three years?

Engagement is the word that comes to mind, more specifically, increasing the level of engagement.  As the fourth largest chiropractic association on the planet, we need to leverage the fact that the OCA membership is more than 3,700 chiropractors strong.  We need to do better at encouraging member involvement and mobilizing our efforts to advocate for the health care needs of Ontarians.  While I am excited about being acclaimed as an OCA director, I am perplexed how a membership as robust as the OCA’s has four posted vacancies for Director roles and only has four nominations put forward.  As a new voice to the OCA, I have some ideas on how we can increase membership engagement/involvement to ensure our profession will   thrive and not just survive in the years to come.  Beyond membership engagement within the profession, I believe we must also continue to strive to improve our engagement within our communities.

Delivering clear messaging on what we do (and what we don’t) will help minimize the public’s misconceptions about chiropractic and ultimately help more people experience the benefits of chiropractic.  The formation of the EHC (Extended Health Care) Advisory Council, EBFAC (Evidence-Based Framework Advisory Council), and the Student and New Graduate Advisory Council all serve to provide a solid foundation for the maintenance and growth of the relationships with stakeholders.  These groups also promote professional engagement and support of the new DC’s and help to ensure that we are well-represented moving forward.

3. What key difference do you want to make during your tenure on the OCA Board of Directors (for 2023-2026)?

As a new face and a new voice on the Board, I want to create awareness on some of the key issues that I have heard from membership to proactively contribute to the OCA’s mandate of advocating for chiropractic and the public at large.  Increasing the utilization of chiropractic, reviewing and updating the OCA recommended fee schedule (last updated January 2019) and having the ability to order MRI and diagnostic ultrasound are just a few of the things that I will be bringing to the table.  Continuing to foster collaborative relationships with family physicians and exploring creative ways to educate key stakeholders on chiropractic care’s clinical and cost effectiveness must remain a top priority.  We must continue to focus on maintaining the ability to order/take X-rays, as sadly, other provinces have already lost this privilege.  Do I expect all these things to be in place at the end of my 3-year term?  No, I do not.  But getting the ball rolling on all these issues while helping Ontarians to keep chiropractic top of mind for MSK care will be my top priority.

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