From a referral to a procedure and the many steps in between, there’s a new tool that you might find handy for information on wait times for surgeries and procedures, whether it’s at the revamped Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital or another location in the Greater Toronto Area.
The province has officially launched an online platform that details data and information on wait times at hospitals across Ontario in collaboration with Health Quality Ontario (HQO).
The platform illustrates average wait times for most kinds of patients. Whether it’s for pediatric surgery, cancer surgery, cardiac surgeries and procedures, eye surgery, or orthopedic surgery, the tool is designed to inform patients and families of the length of time between a referral received from a family physician or nurse practitioner and the patient’s first appointment with a specialist or surgeon, in addition to the time between the decision on a procedure and the date the procedure is performed.
The tool shows data like the percentage of patients that had their surgery within a target amount of time and how long their wait was for comparison.
Since this information varies from hospital to hospital, users can view different wait times at different hospitals, and even a provincial average, according to HQO.
This digital platform might help more patients their families make better decisions about their health and treatment options.
Patients can also use the data to talk to their referring physician about options to reduce their wait times.
This is just a baseline for the platform – HQO plans to grow it to cover several more categories of patients over the years.
“We know that digital technology can make the healthcare journey that much more patient-centred and that digital healthcare is one of the greatest tools for patient empowerment. That’s why we are investing in digital tools like eReferral, in wait-time and local service data and in online health information,” said minister of health and long-term care Dr. Eric Hoskins. “These digital solutions will increase access to care, shorten wait times, and enable people to make informed choices about their health, helping us deliver truly patient-centred health care in Ontario.”
But the wait times tool is not the only digital platform the province is developing.
The Ontario Health website is constantly being refined based on user experience and feedback. The site is a source for information about a wide variety of health services in Ontario, including how to renew health cards, find health services in your community and get dental care for children.
There’s a user survey that you can participate in before September 1, 2017, to provide your feedback on the site.
Another digital system the province is working on is the online eReferral system. The system aims to reduce wait times by connecting patients and primary care providers to specialists and other health care services in their community faster.
It’s no secret that the digital sphere is already intertwined in the medical sphere. In fact, according to the province, an estimated 184,600 patients currently receive virtual care each year through digital self-care programs such as telehomecare and nearly 650,000 virtual care visits, and these numbers are growing rapidly.
Ontario is investing $245 million over the next three years to improve patient access to specialists, including new digital solutions to streamline consultations and eReferrals.
To check out the wait times information platform, click here.