Launched in 2004, Ontario's Wait Time Strategy was originally developed to improve access to five key health services with a goal to reducing wait times for these areas: cancer surgery, cardiac procedures, cataract surgery, hip and knee replacement and MRI and CT scans. The strategy has since evolved- expanding to include all surgeries performed in Ontario and new strategy being developed to reduce emergency room (ER) wait times. These strategies have been supported through significant investments to increase the number of surgeries and procedures being delivered, implementing new initiatives to improve ER processes and creating a system of accountability through transparent reporting of wait time information.
In order to understand Wait Times here are answers to a few common questions:
What is Wait Time?
It is the amount of time you have to wait for a medical procedure. Your wait in measured from the time you procedure is booked by the surgeon until the time you receive it. If you require several procedures for your condition, each one will have its own wait time.
What is a reasonable Wait Time?
Wait times depend on the type of procedure required. Ontario has developed targets which may give you an idea of how long you might have to wait for treatment.
Why do we have Wait Times?
Wait times happen in Ontario because:
There may be more patients than the health care system can treat at the same time.
Our population is getting older and needs more health care.
Doctors find new ways to diagnose and treat more illnesses. There may be more patients for a new procedure than the health care system can treat at the same time.
How do we measure Wait Times?
We measure wait times in 2 ways:
For surgical wait times, we track the time between when a surgery is orderd and when it is performed.
For diagnostic scans (MRIs and CTs) wait times, we track the time between when a diagnostic scan is ordered and when it is completed.
Who goes on a wait list?
Anyone who needs a treatment that has a wait list is placed on the list, unless it is an emergency. Emergency patients are treated as quickly as possible.
How long will I wait?
This depends on:
How serious your illness is
How many other patients your surgeon has to treat
How the hospital schedules patients which depends on staff, equipment and the facilities are available.