Ontario’s year in review, 2020
By Michael Feraday
Association updates from the RMTAO
By Michael Feraday
Like organizations across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic meant that the RMTAO had to put all of our focus into getting our members through the unprecedented crisis. Throughout the early phases of the pandemic, we focused all of our efforts on providing members with the information and resources they needed, and once RMTs were able to return to work we focused on helping them with that transition. We are now able to resume focus on some of the major priorities we had before the pandemic. Going forward, the RMTAO will be focusing on the development of further research, developing stronger relationships with the insurance industry and the inclusion of massage therapy in government programs.
By supporting the development of more massage therapy research, we are ensuring that RMTs are recognized and respected as evidence-based health care professionals. One of the first things we are doing to support the creation of further massage therapy research is commissioning a scoping study of all research related to the “effectiveness of massage,” and using that to inform any further research efforts as well as sharing it widely once completed. The process of developing this scoping study is underway. We are also offering new evidence-based educational opportunities to our members and to RMTs across Canada, including a new webinar program and a conference in 2021.
Many RMT patients have massage therapy coverage through their Extended Health Benefits. A positive relationship with these companies is essential to ensure that as many patients as possible have access to the massage therapy treatment they need. Insurance companies are often unclear about their processes, so that when they ask RMTs for notes or confirmation or treatments, or when they delist RMTs or clinics, they are unclear about how or why they decide to do so. I have been meeting with several insurance companies advocating for transparency and a better understanding of their processes. There have also been issues brought up by our members about the aggressive and potentially unethical tactics that representatives of insurance companies. I meet regularly with representatives of insurance companies and there has been openness to both providing further clarity and changing their practices.
Finally, much of my focus in the coming year will be to ensure that massage therapy is included in government health care initiatives. The government is approaching health care from an interdisciplinary perspective, focusing on care that can keep people active as they age, and treat the many symptoms of mental health concerns, including physical symptoms. RMTs have an important role to play. By sharing the stories of patients who have been helped by massage therapy, and by drawing on my experiences with Family Health Teams, I will be able to help government representatives understand the true value of massage therapy in health care. This understanding is the first step to being included in government health care initiatives, and when the government is more able to discuss priorities outside of the pandemic, we will be able to continue to move forward on this objective.
Our focuses on research, the insurance industry and inclusion in government health care initiatives are all connected. By having the research to support the benefits of massage therapy we will be able to better make the case for coverage by insurance companies and inclusion in government health care initiatives. All of our priorities over the coming year will ultimately be to support the growth and development of the massage therapy profession.
Michael Feraday is the Executive Director and CEO of the RMTAO. He has over 30 years’ experience in senior leadership roles, most recently as Executive Director of the Haldimand Family Health Team. He is also Co-Chair of an Ontario Health Team and has been very active supporting reforms in Health Care in Ontario.