Patient Friendly Website And Independent Data Council Strengthen Wait Time Strategy

    Government Implements Kirby Recommendations As Wait Times Decline

    TORONTO, March 15 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government continues to make
progress in reporting on and reducing wait times for key services with the
launch of a more patient-friendly wait time website and the creation of an
independent Wait Time Data Certification Council, Health and Long-Term Care
Minister George Smitherman announced today.
    "We've made some important changes to the ground-breaking Ontario wait
times website, which has already received more than three million hits since
it was first launched in 2005," said Smitherman. "The website is the window
for the public to see how well we're doing in improving access. More
importantly, it gives patients and doctors the information they need to make
decisions about the health care they receive and give. Today's improvements
are part of our ongoing efforts to safeguard accuracy and ensure the website
is as simple and user-friendly as possible."
    By visiting, Ontarians can see how long patients
are waiting for treatment in the five key services that are part of the
government's Wait Time Strategy - cataract surgery, cancer surgery, total
joint hip and knee replacements, selected cardiac procedures, and MRI/CT
exams. Updated information is posted on the website every two months.
    Smitherman said the government has responded to Senator Michael Kirby's
recent review of Ontario's Wait Time Information System by:

    -   Making the website more user-friendly with the addition of consumer
        and health care provider sections, and using simpler language to
        explain the data to the public.
    -   Creating a Data Certification Council that will review the processes
        on how the wait time information is collected and reported prior to
        its public display on the Ontario government website. The council
        will consist of Michael Decter, Chair of Cancer Quality Council of
        Ontario; Graham Scott, chair of the Canadian Institute for Health
        Information; and Hilary Short, President and CEO of the Ontario
        Hospital Association;

    "I am pleased to Chair this new Council and to assist in the provision of
accurate and timely wait time information for all Ontarians", said Michael
Decter, Chair of Cancer Quality Council of Ontario.
    Since 2005, because of the government's investment of $614 million in
more than 700,000 additional procedures and innovative health care
partnerships, considerable progress has been made in reducing wait times.
    Visitors to the re-launched web site will find the latest data showing
that wait times, measured from the decision to treat, until the treatment is
completed, are down in all five key health service areas in comparison to when
the first comprehensive wait times data was collected in August-September of
    "This new expert committee and the redesigned website are important steps
in reporting on wait times and identifying opportunities for improving access
to health care services across the province," said Dr. Alan Hudson, Lead of
Ontario's Wait Time Strategy. "We've been presenting wait time information
with unprecedented openness so patients can see where the shorter wait times
are and hospitals are accountable for their performances."
    Today's initiative is part of the McGuinty government's plan for
innovation in public health care, building a system that delivers on three
priorities - keeping Ontarians healthy, reducing wait times and providing
better access to doctors and nurses.

    This news release, along with other media materials, such as matte
stories and audio clips, on other subjects, are available on our website at: under the News Media section.

    For more information on achievements in health care, visit:

    Disponible en français.


                         ONTARIO'S WAIT TIME STRATEGY

    "I was told at my appointment near the end of September that I needed
surgery and it was booked for October 19. That was very, very short and you
didn't have time to worry about it. If you don't have that much time to worry
about it (the surgery), it's much better. You're far better going into surgery
being calm than you are if you're upset about it." - Joan Sheppard, cataract
surgery patient from Innisfil.

    "With the introduction of the Wait Time Strategy and increased funding,
we now do many more cancer surgeries . . . than we had done several years ago.
We continue to strive to provide more and more service, hoping that this
improved access to cancer surgery would result in much reduced waiting time
for surgery." - Dr. Mary Gospodarowicz, chief of the radiation medicine
program, Princess Margaret Hospital/University Health Network.

    "They're getting to see a clinician like myself, they're getting to see
the surgeon much faster than they ever would have. They're getting their
surgery booked much sooner and for most patients this is a huge deal because
they're having day-to-day pain, they can't function and do the day-to-day
activities. The response has been very positive (from patients) which is very
gratifying to me as a clinician." - Anna Gutlin, physiotherapist, North York
General Hospital's total joint assessment centre.

    "For knee replacement surgery, our waiting lists have gone from almost
two years to approximately five to six months. The staff have really stepped
up to the plate - which includes surgeons, anesthetists, physiotherapists and
nursing personnel - in order to do this extra work to provide benefits to our
patients." - Dr. John Denstedt, chair of the department of surgery, London
Health Sciences Centre.

    "We've taken nurses from our ambulatory (outpatient) care area and we've
allowed them to train in the operating room theatre with our standard
operating room nurses. For higher volumes of cataract surgeries, they are
replacing the standard operating nurses, and that frees them (operating
nurses) up to perform functions in other areas of the operating room." - Dr.
Gordon Porter, chief of staff, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

    Disponible en français.




    By visiting the wait time website at, Ontarians
can see how wait times across the province are down in all of the five key
health service areas - cancer surgery, cataract surgery, hip and knee
replacements, cardiac procedures, and MRI and CT scans.
    Listed below is the current wait time information, using as the indicator
the point at which nine out of 10 patients have completed surgery or have had
their exam:

                               Wait Times Data
                                Days                          vs. Baseline
                       --------------------------            ----------------
                       Baseline  Current          Completed      Net
                           (Aug/  (Dec06/  Access    Within   change       %
                       Sept '05)  Jan 07)  Target    Target   (Days)  change
    Cancer surgery           81       68       84       94%     -13    -16.0

    Angiography              56       28        -        -      -28    -50.0
    Angioplasty              28       17        -        -      -11    -39.3
    Bypass surgery           49       48      182      100%      -1     -2.0

    Cataract surgery        311      183      182       89%    -128    -41.2

    Hip replacement         351      257      182       81%     -94    -26.8
    Knee replacement        440      307      182       73%    -133    -30.2

    MRI                     120      105       28       42%     -15    -12.5
    CT                       81       62       28       72%     -19    -23.5

    Disponible en français.




    The McGuinty government has made great progress in its goal to strengthen
Ontario's health care system and to increase access to care for all Ontarians:

    More doctors and nurses

    -   The government is bringing better health care to 2.5 million
        Ontarians by creating 150 Family Health Teams (FHTs). So far, there
        are more than 1,300 doctors and 426 allied health care professionals
        working in a FHT.

    -   Approximately 500,000 people who did not have a doctor now have
        access to primary care services.

    -   Medical school enrolment is being increased by 23 per cent.

    -   The number of family medicine training positions has been increased
        by 141 positions since 2003 - this 70 per cent increase will lead to
        337 more family doctors in 2008.

    -   The Northern Ontario School of Medicine is now open - the first new
        medical school in 35 years and the first-ever located in northern

    -   The number of training and assessment positions for international
        medical graduates has more than doubled - from 90 to 200.

    -   The government has funded more than 5,400 new nursing positions and
        is investing $89 million to guarantee that up to 4,000 new nursing
        graduates will have the opportunity for a full-time job this year.

    -   More nurse practitioners are being educated than ever before. Last
        September, Ontario universities admitted 150 first-year students -
        double the number in 2004.

    Shorter Wait Times

    -   An investment of more than $614 million since 2004 in Ontario's Wait
        Time Strategy has provided nearly 740,000 additional procedures,

        -  58,300 more cataract surgeries - leading to a reduction in wait
           times by 41.2 per cent
        -  22,000 more hip and knee joint replacements - leading to a
           reduction in wait times by 26.8 per cent for hip replacements and
           30.2 per cent for knee replacements
        -  46,900 more select cardiac procedures - leading to a reduction in
           wait times by 50 per cent for angiography and 39.3 per cent for
           angioplasty and 2 per cent decrease for bypass surgery
        -  11,600 more cancer surgeries - leading to a reduction in wait
           times by 16 per cent
        -  365,000 more MRI exams - leading to a reduction in wait times by
           12.5 per cent
        -  234,500 more CT scans - leading to a reduction in wait times by
           23.5 per cent.

    -   Ontarians can now access the wait time at hospitals throughout
        Ontario for five key procedures by visiting

    Preventing Illness, Promoting Wellness

    -   The Ministry of Health Promotion was created in 2005 and is dedicated
        to health promotion and illness prevention, including the prevention
        of illness and injuries through more active and healthy lifestyles.

    -   The government has implemented the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, which has
        created 100 per cent smoke-free enclosed public spaces and workplaces
        in the province. Tobacco consumption in Ontario has also fallen over
        18 per cent since 2003.

    -   Canada's most comprehensive newborn screening program has been
        established at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. The number
        of disorders for which newborns are screened has been expanded from 2
        to 28.

    -   Introduced three new vaccines available free of charge for chicken
        pox, meningococcal meningitis and pneumococcal disease, saving
        Ontario families up to $600 per child.

    -   Increased the provincial share of funding for eligible public health
        costs to 75 per cent in 2007 from 50 per cent in 2004.

    Disponible en français.




    The government has responded to Senator Michael Kirby's recent review of
Ontario's Wait Time Information System by:

    -   Creating a Data Certification Council that will review the wait time
        data before it's publicly released.

    -   Making the website more user-friendly with the addition of consumer
        and health care provider sections, and using simpler language to
        explain the data.

    Data Certification Council

    This independent council will review the processes on how the wait time
information is collected and reported prior to its public display on the
Ontario government website. The three signing members of the Council will
certify that the data accurately reflects the wait times reported by
hospitals, using current methodology and that the process and final reporting
of the data has been independent and free of bureaucratic or political

    The Data Certification Council will include:

    -   Michael Decter, Chair, Cancer Quality Council of Ontario and former
        Chair of the Canadian Institute for Health Information
    -   Graham Scott, QC, Chair of Canadian Institute for Health Information
    -   Hilary Short, President/CEO, Ontario Hospital Association

    This council will acknowledge that the data on the website:

    -   has been confirmed by and submitted directly by the hospitals to the
        Wait Times Information Office (WTIO) embedded within Cancer Care
    -   has been subject to health information industry standard data quality
        checks and processes conducted by the WTIO; and
    -   has not been subject to revision or manipulation by any member or
        representative of the Government of Ontario or any other Members of
        Provincial Parliament.

    The following individuals will assist the certification council on
    information validation:

    -   Allan Gross, Professor of Surgery, University of Toronto; Department
        of Surgery, Div of Orthopaedic Surgery, Mount Sinai Hospital; Chair
        of the Orthopaedic Expert Panel
    -   Phil Hooper, Professor of Ophthalmology, Ivey Eye Institute, London
        Health Sciences Centre; Chair, Ophthalmology Expert Panel
    -   Alan R. Hudson, Lead, Access to Services and Wait Time Strategy
        (employed by Cancer Care Ontario)
    -   Anne Keller, Deputy Chief, Department of Medical Imaging, University
        Health Network and Mount Sinai Hospital; Chair of the MRI and CT
        Expert Panel
    -   Sarah Kramer, VP and Chief Information Officer, Cancer Care Ontario;
        Chair of the Access to Care eHealth Expert Panel
    -   Valerie Zellermeyer, RN, Program Director, Perioperative Services,
        St. Michael's Hospital; Chair of the Surgical Process analysis and
        Improvement Expert Panel

    Improving the Public Display of Information on

    Senator Kirby recommended that the Ontario government enhance the display
of information on the public website.
    The website has been enhanced to include his recommendations, along with
other changes recommended through plain language and usability testing in the
fall of 2006.

    These specific changes include:

    1.  A revised main page to include a clear statement of the benefit of
        the website, the purpose of the site, what the information means to
        the individual patient or family member, how it can and should be
        interpreted and used;
    2.  Reformatted search tool to improve site navigation and accessibility
        to the data;
    3.  Charts have been removed from the main page and have been added as a
        separate section on the homepage in a printable PDF format. Graphs
        have been reformatted as line graphs;
    4.  Pages/language has been revised to improve comprehension and
        readability; and
    5.  Pop-up definitions and boxes have been added to simplify the content
        in a way that is easier for the public to understand.

    Disponible en français.


For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: Jeff Rohrer, Minister's Office,
(416) 326-8016; A.G. Klei, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, (416)
314-6197; Members of the general public: 1-866-532-3161

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