Re: Wait times for general surgery in BC

Thank you to Drs Chan, Hwang, and Karimuddin for a well-researched article on the state of wait lists in BC [BCMJ 2015;57:341-348]. However, the data from the Surgical Patient Registry (SPR) are inaccurate because changes relating to patients waiting for surgery are not entered into the system. As a result, the Ministry of Health requires health authorities to audit wait lists, and 10% to 20% of patients are regularly removed through this process. In addition, the data on the percentage of patients receiving treatment within the designated timeframe for their diagnosis also lack accuracy: the use of the prioritization codes was inconsistent immediately after implementation.

The solution to this problem is to have up-to date, synchronized information about patients waiting for surgery. This will require a new electronic system to connect the GP’s and surgeon’s EMR with the hospital electronic record and the SPR. This information would be used to schedule patients and monitor their performance. It would also be used to analyze wait lists to define backlogs and growth in demand.

A proposal for such an electronic system has been submitted to the Ministry of Health by the Provincial Surgical Executive Committee. The intention is for seamless integration with physician EMRs and hospital systems. In addition, the proposal includes a portal for patients to monitor their journey.

This system would allow for better forecasting of demand based on urgency. With the appropriate models for costing surgical care, it would be possible to more objectively define funding required to catch up and maintain services for surgical patients, whatever the funding model.

It is vital that we implement this system as soon as possible to accurately predict demand, manage wait lists more effectively, and improve access for all our patients.
—Andy Hamilton, FRCPC, CCPE

Andy Hamilton, MD,. Re: Wait times for general surgery in BC. BCMJ, Vol. 58, No. 1, January, February, 2016, Page(s) 8 - Letters.

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