Ontario is improving care for patients suffering from chronic pain with new initiatives to ensure they receive appropriate treatment, diagnostic testing and medication.

The province is working with the University Health Network on two initiatives that will help primary care providers care for chronic pain sufferers. This includes:

Connecting chronic pain specialists with primary care providers across the province through the Extensions of Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) project. The first of its kind in Canada, ECHO will use videoconferencing to provide local providers with training and advice on the best care methods for chronic pain patients.

Expanding and updating guidelines for MRI and CT scans to reflect the most current, evidence-based best practices. The guidelines will provide physicians with the most appropriate alternatives, such as ultrasound and radiography, to help improve access to diagnostic imaging equipment for chronic pain patients who benefit most from them.

Ontario also continues to use data from the Narcotics Monitoring System to monitor opioid usage trends and make recommendations to health care providers on appropriate prescribing. Where appropriate, this data is also being shared with regulatory colleges and law enforcement authorities to ensure medications are being used appropriately.

Giving primary care providers and pharmacists the tools to effectively treat and manage patients with chronic pain supports Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care, ensuring patients get the right care, at the right time and in the right place. It is also part of the government’s economic plan that is creating jobs for today and tomorrow by focusing on Ontario’s greatest strengths — its people and strategic partnerships.

Quick Facts

One in five Ontarians suffer from moderate to severe chronic pain daily or most days of the week.
The government is providing more than $1.33 million over three years to the University Health Network to administer the ECHO Ontario demonstration project to three Local Health Integration Networks (Central, Central East and North West).
The government is providing the University Health Network $664,000 to expand and sustain the development of the provincial referral guidelines for MRIs, CTs and other diagnostic imaging.
Through the Narcotics Monitoring System, the government is monitoring inappropriate narcotic prescribing. Nine cases of abuse and double doctoring have been identified and referred to the Ontario Provincial Police.