Emerging trend data show shorter waits for joint replacement and cataract surgery

    Number of patients receiving surgery within benchmarks varies by priority

    OTTAWA, April 23 /CNW Telbec/ - Since 2005, four out of the five
provinces where trends can be monitored have shown improvements in wait times
for hip replacement surgery (Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia),
and another three of four (Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta) show decreasing
wait times for cataract surgery, according to a new report from the Canadian
Institute for Health Information (CIHI). Wait Times Tables--A Comparison by
Province marks the first time more comparable information is available on how
provinces are meeting benchmarks for medically acceptable waits in priority
areas, as determined by Canada's health ministers in 2005.
    "While we still need to be cautious about making direct comparisons
between the provinces, we are pleased to be able to look at the progress made
in reducing wait times across the country," says Helen Angus, Vice President
of Research and Analysis at CIHI. "Since the agreement was signed in 2005,
provinces have been working to make their efforts around wait time reductions
more transparent, improving the scope of data to enhance comparability,
resulting in a more complete picture of wait times across the priority areas."

    Reporting against benchmarks varies by priority areas

    On December 12, 2005, Canada's health ministers announced wait time
benchmarks that were established based on clinical evidence, for five types of
non-emergency surgery, radiation therapy and cancer screening. These
benchmarks apply to the period between booking (defined as when the patient
and an appropriate physician agree to a service and the patient is ready to
receive it) and when the service starts.
    The analysis shows all 10 provinces report against Canadian benchmarks
for hip and knee replacements. While many (75%) patients received a hip
replacement within the 26-week benchmark in Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario,
Manitoba, Alberta and B.C., waits for knee replacements appear to be longer.
Only three provinces (Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ontario) report that
over 75% of knee replacement patients received their surgery within the
recommended 26 weeks.
    In the case of cataract surgery, in five reporting provinces (Nova
Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, B.C.) 75% of patients are meeting the
16-week benchmark.
    CIHI's report also found that most patients (90% to 100%) receive
coronary bypass surgery within 26 weeks, excluding emergency cases. Benchmarks
for bypass surgery vary from 2 to 26 weeks, depending on the severity of the
patient's case. Comparative data are not yet available to determine if
recommended waits are being met by priority level.

    Fewer provinces reporting wait times for diagnostic imaging than for
    other priority areas

    Since 2004, both the number of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT
(computed tomography) scanners and the number of exams performed in Canada
have increased, by 30% and 35%, respectively. Based on limited available data,
this has not always translated into reduced waits, however. Only five
provinces report diagnostic imaging waits, fewer than are reporting in other
priority areas. At this time, no pan-Canadian benchmark exists for medical
imaging, though Alberta, Ontario and Prince Edward Island have developed their
own targets for MRI and CT waits.
    "CIHI will continue to monitor wait times reporting and trend information
as part of our commitment to measuring access to care," says Tracy Johnson,
Manager of Wait Times Projects with CIHI. "With comparable information, the
provinces can work together to determine the most effective strategies to
improve patient care."

    About CIHI

    The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) collects and
analyzes information on health and health care in Canada and makes it publicly
available. Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments created
CIHI as a not-for-profit, independent organization dedicated to forging a
common approach to Canadian health information. CIHI's goal: to provide
timely, accurate and comparable information. CIHI's data and reports inform
health policies, support the effective delivery of health services and raise
awareness among Canadians of the factors that contribute to good health.

    The analysis, as well as the following figures and tables, is available
from CIHI's website at www.cihi.ca.

    Table 1   At Least 75% of Patients Receive Treatment Within Wait Time
              Benchmarks (Table 1 in the analysis)

    Table 2   Provincial Wait Time Trends (Table 2 in the analysis)

For further information:

For further information: Leona Hollingsworth, (416) 481-2002 ext. 5251,
Cell: (416) 459-6855, lhollingsworth@cihi.ca; Jennie Hoekstra, (613) 241-7860
ext. 6331, Cell: (613) 725-4097, jhoekstra@cihi.ca

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