The beginnings of CBI began to take shape in 1974 with the creation of a lecture series, initially delivered in May 1974 in a medical students' classroom in the Women's College Hospital in Toronto.
Dr. Hamilton Hall, a young orthopaedic surgeon and lecturer at the University of Toronto, recognized that the majority of the patients seeing him for surgical consultations did not need surgery; they needed to understand how to more effectively deal with back pain. To address this need, Dr. Hall and a physiotherapist, Iris Weverman, decided to offer two lectures that would provide more information than could typically be obtained from an appointment with a spine surgeon. The name formally given to the lecture series was the Women's College Hospital Back Education Unit. By 1977, a growing demand within Toronto had resulted in the addition of several new locations around the city that offered the lectures. The program was no longer restricted to the Toronto General and Women's College Hospitals and so the name was changed to the Toronto Back Education Units.
Interest continued and by 1978 there were 5 locations in Toronto and a few outside the city, offering the program. In an effort to reflect the growth of the program, the name of the lecture series was changed to the Canadian Back Education Units (CBEU). By the end of the year, there were locations in both Ontario and Quebec and the CBEU could claim 1,200 graduates. By 1981, participants of the lecture had come from across Canada and the USA, and as far as Australia and India. At the end of that year, it was estimated that globally over 5,500 patients had participated in the education series.
In February 1978 an article by Sidney Katz appeared in the Toronto Star praising the program. The result was a further increase in interest from the public and a request from Macmillan, a book publisher, for Dr. Hamilton Hall to write a book on back pain. Two years later The Back Doctor was published and became an international best seller.
Beginning in 1978, CBEU began offering lecture programs in the Toronto area to employers, educating them on the importance of proper back care management and its impact in the workplace. Working with companies such as Federal Cartridge, 3M, and other major organizations in both Canada and the United States provided the opportunity to carry out research involving large numbers of participants from both the industrial and ongoing patient education sessions.
The increased exposure and the positive reports attracted more attention and the CBEU believed it needed to expand to meet the needs of patients, industries and employers. As a result, in late 1982 the Canadian Back Institute was born.
Tony Melles, a recently-graduated physiotherapist, approached Dr. Hall in 1984 about opening a Canadian Back Institute clinic that would support the educational efforts with complementary active treatment. He proposed a clinic unlike any other at the time, promoting education, physical training, patient responsibility and outcome assessment. It would include as an integral part of the approach continuing research into treatment effectiveness.
After 11 years of patient and industrial education, CBI was starting over as a single clinic.
CBI Clinic Era
On January 7, 1985, the Sheppard Street clinic officially opened for business. In December 1986, a second clinic was opened in Oakville, and a third opening occurred in 1988 in Brampton. By mid-1989 there were eight clinics operating, and by mid-1990 there were twelve clinics across Ontario and more planned in other regions. Calgary opened in June 1990, followed by Halifax and Vancouver shortly afterwards. Throughout the 1990s, the Canadian Back Institute continued to grow and expand from primarily treating neck and back pain to providing comprehensive rehabilitation for all musculo-skeletal conditions. The core clinical teams grew in response to the increasing complexity of referred patients, and included physiotherapists, kinesiologists, occupational therapists and case managers, often supported by visiting specialists.
In alignment to its diversification beyond back care, in late 1997 the Canadian Back Institute was formally changed to CBI Health. In late 1998, Christopher Szybbo, Chief Operating Officer for Western Canada, moved to Toronto to become the Chief Operating Officer for CBI Health and was promoted to President in early 1999. Throughout the 2000s, the company continued to grow even more rapidly than in its early years, evolving into a health services provider and health management consulting company.
Some of the diverse healthcare services provided in addition to the network of rehabilitation clinics include medical practice management, home health and eldercare services, vocational rehabilitation, hospital-based service delivery, industrial rehabilitation and occupational health services, and pediatric care. Monarch House, a centre for integrated, interdisciplinary care of children with autism spectrum disorders, opened in Burnaby, BC in 2009.
CBI Health Group today
As a result of the large and diverse network of facilities and services, CBI Health is now the CBI Health Group, the name chosen in early 2009.
Over the last ten years, CBI has progressively developed its systems, processes and network capabilities. We use data, whether from clinical or business applications, to examine previous decisions and enhance future ones. We engage patients and customers and learn from our interactions. Our systematic application of logical clinical and operational processes allows us to work in other environments and health systems, such as managing departments within hospitals, or working with health regions to design better ways to optimize care delivery. The initial passion and attitudes of our early years, though more professional and disciplined, has not diminished.
Today, we have over 165 clinics and facilities across Canada, represented by over 4700 CBI staff and associates. The objectives of the company have remained on improving access to healthcare services and continually striving to improve health outcomes for patients and communities, through learning, education and engagement. But it is the culture of the company that differentiates us from others. We recognize the importance of measuring results, of setting goals, measuring progress, and working in collaboration with others as part of a team.