New partnership prevents suffering and saves money

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MichenerA new partnership between the Canadian Association of Neurophysiological Monitoring (CANM) and The Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences will improve the outcomes for patients having high-risk surgery and potentially save the health care system millions of dollars each year.

CANM has partnered with the Michener Institute to develop a Graduate Certificate Program in Intraoperative Neurophysiological Monitoring (IONM) that launched in September 2014.

IONM is a growing allied health care profession that is a vital to the protection of patients undergoing high-risk surgeries such as neurosurgery and spinal deformity correction. IONM practitioners continuously assess the patient’s nervous system in real time to alert the surgeon of evolving problems, allowing for rapid intervention. Timely IONM feedback is a powerful tool that can improve surgical outcomes and prevent devastating post-operative outcomes, including paralysis.

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Using IONM during spine surgery can reduce the incidence of permanent neurological injury by up to three per cent. Given that the economic burden of a traumatic spinal cord injury in Canada ranges from $1.47 million (incomplete paraplegia) to $3.03 million (complete quadriplegia) over a patient’s lifetime, this represents a tremendous cost savings to this country’s health care system because more than 10,000 Canadians undergo spine surgery each year. In other words, IONM has the potential to save our health care system many millions of dollars in addition to preventing an immeasurable amount of human suffering each and every year. The cost-benefit to using IONM in procedures that put the nervous system at risk also helps health care decision-makers, who are under increasing pressure to deliver high quality, economically sustainable health care.

“The new certificate program in IONM offered by CANM and Michener will be the first of its kind in Canada and, to our knowledge, the world,” says Laura Holmes, President of CANM.

“By offering the two-year post-graduate certificate program online, we are able to increase accessibility to students across Canada and internationally. Since our organization has recognized and embraced the urgent need for both a professional education program and a national accreditation exam leading to eligibility for practice in Canada, a partnership with Michener is integral to meeting the IONM needs of patients in the Canadian health care system.”

“One of Michener’s core strengths is our ability to respond quickly to emerging health education needs through the development of partnerships that bring clinical and educational solutions together in creative ways,” says Michener’s CEO Maureen Adamson.

“This partnership with CANM provides us a unique opportunity to advance the quality and accreditation of intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring not just in Ontario, but across the country.”

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IONM has been around for approximately 30 years but regulations and standards of education and practice have only recently been introduced. However, the creation of the Canadian Association of Neurophysiological Monitoring (CANM) in 2008 launched tremendous momentum in the development of IONM as an independent allied health care profession in Canada. And while IONM may be one of the newer allied health care professions to come of age in Canada, recent evidence and improvements in technology have resulted in an increased demand for its services among vascular, orthopedic and neurosurgeons. This is good news for both patients and the Canadian healthcare system as a whole.

“As a group of children’s spine surgeons, the Canadian Paediatric Spine Study Group is extremely excited about the recent agreement between CANM and The Michener Institute for an education program to train IONM professionals in Canada, as they are now an essential part of our surgical team,” says Dr. Ron El-Hawary, Chief of Paediatric Orthopedics IWK Health Centre and past-President of the Canadian Paediatric Spine Society (CPSS).

“This ground-breaking program will allow the training of new, well qualified IONM professionals in Canada, and should ultimately provide optimal care for Canadian children who require surgery for spinal deformities.”