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Ontario surgery wait times are now online

Expositor Staff

(FOTOLIA IMAGE)

(FOTOLIA IMAGE)

Ontarians can now use a new online tool to see wait times for certain surgeries and compare them at hospitals across the province.

Health Minister Eric Hoskins recently announced that the system was developed with Health Quality Ontario and can be found on that website.

It includes the length of time between a referral and first appointment with a specialist or surgeon, as well as the time between a decision being made to book a procedure and the date it's performed.

The province is investing nearly $13 million over two years to expand eReferral systems that connect patients and primary care providers to specialists and other health care services in several regions, including Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant, Waterloo-Wellington, and across the north.

Ontario is also developing an electronic version of immunization cards.

Hoskins said that digital health care is one of the greatest tools for patient empowerment.

Data for wait times is available down to the hospital level, and will help patients better understand what to expect and allow them to make more informed choices about their health-care needs, including being able to talk with the referring physician about options to reduce their wait times, said Hoskins.

Estimating when a specialist appointment or surgery date will be means people don't have to put their life on hold, said the minister.

"We know that digital technology can make the health-care journey that much more patient-centred," said Hoskins. "These digital solutions will increase access to care, shorten wait times, and enable people to make informed choices about their health."

The data currently tracks how long Ontarians have wait to see a surgical specialist and get surgery; how long they've waited in emergency; and how long they've waited for diagnostic imaging.

The data include wait times to see a surgical specialist and get surgery in these categories: surgeries for children, cancer surgeries, cardiac surgeries and procedures, eye surgeries, orthopedic (bone) surgeries, and other surgeries and procedures.

For example, when comparing wait times for cataract surgeries for top priority patients to the first surgical appointment, the average among Ontario hospitals is 76 days, compared to 83 days at Brantford General Hospital and 80 days at Norfolk General Hospital in Simcoe.

When comparing the time of decision to eye surgery, the average wait among Ontario hospitals is 94 days, compared to 74 at BGH and 323 at NGH.

When comparing the wait times for orthopedic (hip and knee) surgeries for top priority patients to the first surgical appointment, the average among Ontario hospitals is 79 days compared to 81 days at BGH. There is no data for Norfolk General Hospital.

When comparing the time of decision to orthopedic surgery, the average wait among Ontario hospitals is 120 days, compared to 294 days at BGH.

Ontario.ca/health provides information about a variety of health services, including how to renew health cards, find health services and get dental care for children.

With files from The Canadian Press

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