On September 28, 2022, the Government of Alberta, Ministry of Health announced plans to reinstate public funding for claims for Diagnostic Imaging (DI) services that are referred by a physiotherapist, chiropractor or audiologist. You can read more about the announcement here.
A bulletin issued by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, dated October 7, 2022, states that the information system changes required to enable these services are complete.
The bulletin indicates that “The change allows practitioners to use their full scope of practice in supporting patient access to medically required services under the AHCIP.”
Full scope of practice for physiotherapists who have applied for and received authorization from the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta to order diagnostic imaging includes ordering x-ray, ultrasound imaging and magnetic resonance imaging.
The wording of the September 29, 2022, announcement indicated that funding for Magnetic Resonance Imaging was not affected by the policy change. This was understood to mean that Magnetic Resonance Imaging ordered by physiotherapists would only occur if privately funded.
The College of Physiotherapists of Alberta sought clarification regarding the apparent inconsistency of the two statements.
The College has been advised that the Schedule of Medical Benefits does not include fee codes for Magnetic Resonance Imaging services, meaning that public funding for Magnetic Resonance Imaging referred by physiotherapists will not be provided through the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. This was the case prior to 2020 and remains the case today.
Physiotherapists are reminded that at any time when they refer a patient for a physician consultation using their Practitioner Identification Number (PracID), the consulting physician has the authority to accept or decline the referral. This is the case when a physiotherapist refers a patient to a radiologist for Diagnostic Imaging, as with all other physician consultations.