When we think of health care – data is not the first thing that comes to mind. However, many physicians would likely agree that data is integral to evaluating and improving the delivery of health care.
Specifically, how long patients wait to see a specialist from the time they are referred by a GP or other physician has not been easily tracked. There is anecdotal information and surveys of specialists, but limited ability to accurately track and measure wait times for specialist office consultations in an integrated and patient focused way.
In BC, a physician-driven project to develop, test, prototype and implement the collection, tracking and reporting of wait time data through physician offices’ electronic medical records (EMRs) began in one orthopedic surgeon’s office in 2012.
Orthopedic surgeon, Dr Kevin Wing submitted a proposal on behalf of the BC Orthopaedic Association and received initial funding from SSC’s Quality and Improvement Initiative for this Wait Time Initiative. Since then with the continuing support of SSC, the project has expanded to include over 50 orthopedic and general surgeons’ offices, and currently aims to add about 300 more physician offices in the next 12 months, starting with physicians using QHR’s- Accuro EMR.
Dr. Ahmer Karimuddin, a general surgeon and an SSC member has recently joined Dr Wing, and they continue to move this patient focused, physician-driven initiative forward. In addition to orthopedic and general surgery, the recently established Steering Committee includes representatives from two other medical sections to help further leverage this initiative.
This initiative has bold aims, including:
• improving communication about wait times between specialists’ offices, referring physicians and patients
• identifying care gaps, areas of high need and patient trends
• identifying quality improvement strategies to better manage wait times (e.g., pooled referrals/central intake, group medical visits, etc.)
Over the long term, as the needs of BC’s population changes the data can be used to inform health human resource planning to support continued and timely access to care. For more information, please contact Joanna Wills at firstname.lastname@example.org