Life is a marathon, not a sprint. The same applies to pandemics. As each of you are doing personally and professionally, at the ORA we are soldiering on, one day at a time.
As you know, we were successful in the battle to ensure that E078 premiums can be billed with the K083 code. For those who previously billed for non-OTN virtual visits using only the K083 equivalent of the base visit fees, OHIP instituted a K084 code to allow you to bill the balance, equivalent to the value of E078. Details were provided via an ORA e-blast and are on our website.
We have been advocating through the OMA and the Ministry of Health to ensure that access to the COVID-19 vaccine is prioritized, not only for hospital-based health care workers, but also for community-based physicians and their office staff. Rheumatologists are often community-based, and the work being done there to stabilize our complex patients and keep them out of acute-care settings must be recognized.
Our November Industry Council was held virtually. We updated our industry partners on ORA activities and plans. We held 1:1 breakout meeting with current and potential ORA sponsors, unveiling our revised corporate sponsorship and Annual Scientific Meeting virtual lounge documents, which have been well-received and are fully compliant with IMC and PAAB guidelines for interactions with the pharmaceutical industry. We held a successful Board meeting in January, and an ORA Town Hall with Dr. Zain Chagla on February 4th. In addition to COVID-19 and COVID vaccine topics, the developing issue of pre-authorization companies imposing barriers to advanced therapies and news about SADIE were also covered. All Board and Committee meetings and workshops will remain virtual in the short and medium-term.
The ORA Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) will be held from May 28-30, 2021, using an innovative and interactive virtual format. Dr. Janet Pope has organized a superb event, assisted by our ORA ASM Committee. Our star-studded roster of speakers includes Drs. Joseph Smolen, Maya Buch, Michelle Petri, Jeffrey Curtis, Christopher Ritchlin, Robert Inman, Shahin Jamal, Robert Bell and Jason Lee. Full details can be found on our website www.ontariorheum.ca . Registration should begin in March, with early-bird pricing available.
All ORA committees continue to actively function and deal with their mandates. The new Northern Ontario committee, chaired by Sahil Koppikar, conducted two virtual workshops in January, both of which were fully subscribed. We have also learned of extreme shortages of rheumatologists in Eastern Ontario, and a similar initiative to remedy the situation there is now underway, led by Dr. Ashley Sterrett.
The Informatics Committee is working on launching phase 1 of the ORDER project, aiming to create a dashboard for a rheumatology EMR, which will allow participants to view their own practice outcomes, and compare themselves to the aggregate of participating rheumatologists within the province. The ultimate goal remains to provide an enhanced EMR user experience, while improving patient outcomes in a measurable fashion. Dr. Tom Appleton has led this effort diligently for years, working with his very engaged committee members. Atlysian Solutions is our project manager, and we are working with multiple vendors aiming to pilot this work later in 2021.
Our ORA Government Affairs Committee (formerly the EAP Committee) has also been busy. We arranged a meeting with Dan McLean, the new head of pCPA, and will continue to engage with them on improving drug access to innovative therapies. Mid-February 2021 is expected to bring the launch of multiple adalimumab biosimilars. We are educating new companies entering the rheumatology space to ensure that patients are not disadvantaged when transitioning to biosimilars.
Our ORA Board, Executive, Committee chairs and Committee members continue to work diligently on behalf of the ORA membership and their patients during these challenging times. Please consult the ORA website or contact us if we can assist with any practice issues. As well, there are always opportunities for ORA members to participate in ORA activities and committees. Check out our website for more information.
Membership renewal notices for 2021 have been sent. Please renew your ORA membership and complete the renewal questionnaire, which is very helpful to us for ORA planning purposes. Your membership dues are essential in maintaining the ORA on a sound financial footing to support all of our activities.
Stay sane, stay safe!