Wait Time Strategy resulting in more procedures, shorter waits in Niagara

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Posted Apr 25th, 2008

Niagara, ON - The Niagara Health System (NHS) has made significant progress in increasing volumes and decreasing wait times over the last 3½ years for surgeries and diagnostic tests targeted under the provincial Wait Time Strategy. NHS wait times are tracking below the provincial average in most areas.

Since the provincial government introduced the Wait Time Strategy in November 2004, the NHS has received more than $14 million to provide a specific number of procedures in five targeted areas: cancer surgery, cardiac procedures, cataract surgery, hip and knee replacements, and MRI and CT diagnostic exams.

In total, the NHS has performed an additional 3,425 surgical procedures with the funding, (388 hips/knees; 2,910 cataracts; and 127 cancer surgeries); 11,439 diagnostic hours (2,142 CT hours and 9,297 MRI hours), 1,090 colorectal screening procedures and 2,796 chemotherapy visits.

"Every dollar we receive in wait-time funding goes directly to patient care to increase volumes and reduce the time patients wait for these key procedures. The Wait Time Strategy is having an enormous impact on patient care in Niagara," says NHS President and CEO Debbie Sevenpifer. "Our health-care team is working very hard to ensure our patients receive timely access to care, which is an important measure of the quality of care we provide to the people of our region."

The wait time is measured from the time it takes from when the physician specialist determines a patient needs surgery or a CT/MRI test and the patient agrees to the procedure to when the test or surgical procedure is actually carried out. The following table shows wait times – measured in days – for specific procedures for the first period reported under the Strategy and the latest period reported under the Strategy, as well as the latest provincial average and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) target.

Procedure
NHS wait time as of July 2005
NHS wait time as of Dec.-Feb. 2007-08
Provincial Avg. as of Dec.-Feb. 2007-08
MOHLTC target wait time
Hip replacement surgery
204
176
214
182
Knee replacement surgery
264
309
252
182
Cataract surgery
134
155
120
182
MRI
162
33
116
28
CT
85
39
58
28
Breast cancer surgery
28
29
39
84
Gastrointestinal cancer surgery
24
39
45
84
Genitourinary (bladder) cancer surgery
64
39
68
84
 
NHS wait time in April-May 2006
NHS wait time in Dec.-Feb. 2007-08
Provincial Avg. as of Dec.-Feb. 2007-08
MOHLTC target wait time
Prostate cancer surgery
57
44
87
84
Lung cancer surgery
47
31
43
84

In addition to increasing volumes and reducing wait times, the Wait Time Strategy is strengthening our hospital system by providing us with new data we can use from a planning perspective to examine the most effective and efficient use of our resources in terms of health-care providers, funding, space and time.

"We are seeing improved collaboration among the hospitals in our LHIN," says NHS Chief of Staff Dr. Bill Shragge. "Our health-care professionals are learning what is working well at other hospitals and making improvements here in Niagara to deliver care based on best practice."

"In some cases, the wait times do go up and down but overall a downward trend for all of our wait times is our goal and we are on track to meet that goal," says Dr. Shragge. "Overall, the Wait Time Strategy is improving access to care for a wide range of our patients and enhancing the way we deliver that care."

NHS wait time data is available on the MOHLTC website at www.health.gov.on.ca and on the NHS website at www.niagarahealth.on.ca.

Niagara Health System