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More than 13,000 British Columbians live with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and our aging population means this number will only increase. While treatment is complex, it is one of the most treatable neurological conditions. With expert and appropriate treatment and therapies, disease progression can be managed which means patients are at decreased risk of falls, hospitalizations and referrals to long term care. Many patients who are well managed are able to live independently for many years.

While expert supports are available in the province, long waitlists often leads to delayed treatment and unnecessary disease progression. Once patients do receive care, allied health professionals often lack knowledge of PD and best practices for disease management, leading patients to often receive improper treatment in emergency rooms, hospitals, general practices, and care homes. And patients with advanced Parkinson’s have limited therapeutic options which means often the only option is placement in expensive complex care facilities.

PSBC Four Point Plan [PDF format]

  1. Develop a B.C. Parkinson’s Disease Strategy: Engage health system planners, clinical experts and the experience of people living with PD to develop an evidenced-based strategy to improve and better coordinate the services provided to PD patients around B.C.
  2. Add specialized staff to existing PD programs: Add physicians and allied health professional to allow additional assessment capacity at PD specific treatment programs in the province. Patients can face an 18-24 month wait during which their disease will continue to progress.
  3. Fund PD specific training for allied health professionals: People living with PD regularly use physio services to maintain movement but very few of the province’s 3,500 physiotherapists have training related to PD and movement disorders. PSBC has partnered with UBC Continuing Medical Education to develop a proposed program to train physiotherapists in Parkinson’s disease.
  4. Expand the Deep Brain Stimulation program: Like Duodopa, this is an option for a small number of patients with advanced Parkinson’s Disease. The surgery has enabled people to live independently in their own homes for many more years but patients can wait many years to access it given funding limits. By taking action in four areas the province can help those with PD lead independent lives for as long as possible and reduce their overall impact on the healthcare system.

By taking action in four areas the province can help those with PD lead independent lives for as long as possible and reduce their overall impact on the healthcare system. 

Expected Benefits 

  • Estimated cost of recommendations is $1.5 to $2 million.
  • A cost avoidance of a conservative $4 million (based on an average cost of $80,000 per LTC bed x 50 people per year. Cost for a hospital bed is $400 to $1,100 or $33,000 per day).
  • Payback through controlling costs:
    • Research shows that Parkinson's patient outcomes improve with regular access to specialized care.
    • Admissions to hospital and long term care facilities are reduced. 
    • PD is the second most common neurological disease after Alzheimer's. 
    • Parkinson's has the third highest level of direct health care costs for neurological disease, after Alzheimer's disease and Epilepsy. 
    • In 2012/2013, the BC Ministry of Health estimated that $112 million was spent on direct care related to PD including hospital, MSP and Pharmacare costs. The estimated cost in 2000-2001 was $45 million. 
    • BC's Ministry of Health data indicates the number of Parkinson's patients in BC has increased by 39% in the last decade from around 8,600 in 2001-02 to 13,300 in 2013-14. 
    • The number of people with PD is expected to roughly double by 2031; as a result, costs can be projected to double as well to $224 million by 2031.