Patient and operational factors affecting wait times in a bariatric surgery program in Toronto: a retrospective cohort study.
ABSTRACT: Increasing rates of obesity have led to growing demand for bariatric surgery. This has implications for wait times, particularly in publicly funded programs. This study examined the impact of patient and operational factors on wait times in a multidisciplinary bariatric surgery program.A retrospective study was conducted involving patients who were referred to a tertiary care centre (University Health Network, Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto) for bariatric surgery between June 2008 and July 2011. Patient characteristics, dates of clinical assessments and records describing operational changes were collected. Univariable analysis and multivariable log-linear and parametric time-to-event regressions were performed to determine whether patient and operational covariates were associated with the wait time for bariatric surgery (i.e., length of preoperative evaluation).Of the 1664 patients included in the analysis, 724 underwent surgery with a mean wait time of 440 (standard deviation 198) days and a median wait time of 445 (interquartile range 298-533) days. Wait times ranged from 3 months to 4 years. Univariable and multivariable analyses showed that patients with active substance use (? = 0.3482, p = 0.02) and individuals who entered the program in more recent operational periods (? = 0.2028, p < 0.001) had longer wait times. Additionally, the median time-to-surgery increased over 3 discrete operational periods (characterized by specific program changes related to scheduling and staffing levels, and varying referral rates and defined surgical targets; p < 0.001).Some patients could be identified at referral as being at risk for longer wait times. We also found that previous operational decisions significantly increased the wait time in the program since its inception. Therefore, careful consideration must be devoted to process-level decision-making for multistage bariatric surgical programs, because managerial and procedural changes can affect timely access to treatment.
Project description:Extreme obesity affects nearly 8% of Canadians, and is debilitating, costly and ultimately lethal. Bariatric surgery is currently the most effective treatment available; is associated with reductions in morbidity/mortality, improvements in quality of life; and appears cost-effective. However, current demand for surgery in Canada outstrips capacity by at least 1000-fold, causing exponential increases in already protracted, multi-year wait-times. The objectives and hypotheses of this study were as follows: 1. To serially assess the clinical, economic and humanistic outcomes in patients wait-listed for bariatric care over a 2-year period. We hypothesize deterioration in these outcomes over time; 2. To determine the clinical effectiveness and changes in quality of life associated with modern bariatric procedures compared with medically treated and wait-listed controls over 2 years. We hypothesize that surgery will markedly reduce weight, decrease the need for unplanned medical care, and increase quality of life; 3. To conduct a 3-year (1 year retrospective and 2 year prospective) economic assessment of bariatric surgery compared to medical and wait-listed controls from the societal, public payor, and health-care payor perspectives. We hypothesize that lower indirect, out of pocket and productivity costs will offset increased direct health-care costs resulting in lower total costs for bariatric surgery.Population-based prospective cohort study of 500 consecutive, consenting adults, including 150 surgically treated patients, 200 medically treated patients and 150 wait-listed patients. Subjects will be enrolled from the Edmonton Weight Wise Regional Obesity Program (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), with prospective bi-annual follow-up for 2 years. Mixed methods data collection, linking primary data to provincial administrative databases will be employed. Major outcomes include generic, obesity-specific and preference-based quality of life assessment, patient satisfaction, patient utilities, anthropometric indices, cardiovascular risk factors, health care utilization and direct and indirect costs.The results will identify the spectrum of potential risks associated with protracted wait times for bariatric care and will quantify the economic, humanistic and clinical impact of surgery from the Canadian perspective. Such information is urgently needed by health-service providers and policy makers to better allocate use of finite resources. Furthermore, our findings should be widely-applicable to other publically-funded jurisdictions providing similar care to the extremely obese.Clinicaltrials.gov NCT00850356.
Project description:Background: Effective provision of bariatric surgery for patients with obesity may be impeded by concerns of payers regarding costs or perceptions of patients who drop out of surgical programs after referral. Estimates of the cost and comorbidity impact of these inefficiencies in gastric bypass surgery in Canada are lacking but would aid in informing healthcare investment and resource allocation. Objectives: To estimate total and relative public payer costs for surgery and comorbidities (diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia) in a bariatric surgery population. Methods: A decision analytic model for a 100-patient cohort in Canada (91% female, mean body mass index 49.2 kg/m2, 50% diabetes, 66% hypertension, 59% dyslipidemia). Costs include surgery, surgical complications, and comorbidities over the 10-year post-referral period. Results are calculated as medians and 95% credibility intervals (CrIs) for a pathway with surgery at 1 year ("improved") compared with surgery at 3.5 years ("standard"). Sensitivity analyses were performed to test independent contributions to results of shorter wait time, better post-surgical weight loss, and randomly sampled cohort demographics. Results: Compared to standard care, the improved path was associated with reduction in patient-years of treatment for each of the three comorbidities, corresponding to a reduction of $1.1 (0.68-1.6) million, or 34% (26-41%) of total costs. Comorbidity treatment costs were 9.0- and 4.7-fold greater than surgical costs for the standard and improved pathways, respectively. Relative to non-surgical bariatric care, earlier surgery was associated with earlier return on surgical investment and 2-fold reduction in risk of prevalence of each comorbidity compared to delayed surgery. Conclusions: Comorbidity costs represent a greater burden to payers than the costs of gastric bypass surgery. Investments may be worthwhile to reduce wait times and dropout rates and improve post-surgical weight loss outcomes to save overall costs and reduce patient comorbidity prevalence.
Project description:Protracted, multi-year wait times exist for bariatric care in Canada. Our objective was to examine wait-listed patients' health status and perceptions regarding the consequences of prolonged wait times using a cross-sectional study design nested within a prospective cohort.150 consecutive consenting subjects wait-listed for multi-disciplinary bariatric assessment in a population-based medical/surgical bariatric program were surveyed. Health status was measured using a visual analogue scale (VAS). A Waiting List Impact Questionnaire (WLIQ) examined employment, physical stress, social support, frustration, quality of life, and satisfaction with care. Multivariable linear regression analysis adjusted for age, sex and BMI identified independent predictors of lower VAS scores.136 (91%) subjects were women, mean age was 43 years (SD 9), mean BMI was 49.4 (SD 8.3) kg/m2 and average time wait-listed was 64 days (SD 76). The mean VAS score was 53/100 (SD 22). According to the WLIQ, 47% of subjects agreed/strongly agreed that waiting affected their quality of life, 65% described wait times as 'concerning' and 81% as 'frustrating'. 86% reported worsening of physical symptoms over time. Nevertheless, only 31% were dissatisfied/very dissatisfied with their overall medical care. Independent predictors of lower VAS scores were higher BMI (beta coefficient 0.42; p = 0.03), unemployment (13.7; p = 0.01) and depression (10.3; p = 0.003).Patients wait-listed for bariatric care self-reported very impaired health status and other adverse consequences, attributing these to protracted waits. These data may help benchmark the level of health impairment in this population, understand the physical and mental toll of waiting, and assist with wait list management.Clinicaltrials.gov NCT00850356.
Project description:Background:Prolonged wait times are known barriers to accessing nephrology care for patients needing more urgent specialist services. Improved process and standardized triage systems are known to minimize wait times of urgent or semi-urgent care in health care disciplines. In Central Zone (CZ) renal clinic, mean wait times for urgent (P1) and semi-urgent (P2) referrals were prolonged before 2014. We also observed prolonged wait times for elective (P3-P5) categories. Improving wait times was identified as an access to care quality improvement focus in CZ renal clinic of the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA). Objectives:To describe our new referral process and new triage system, and to examine their effect on number of referrals wait-listed and mean wait times. Design:A quasi-experimental design was used. Setting:Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Participants:Patients referred to Central Zone Renal Clinic between 2012 and 2018. Measurements:A time series of referral counts and wait times for each triage category were measured before our interventions and after implementing our interventions. Methods:We reviewed our referral processes to identify gaps leading to prolonged wait times. On January 1, 2014, we implemented new administrative procedures: pretriage (standardized referral information form and staff training), triage (standardized clinic intake criteria and new triage guidelines), posttriage (protecting clinic spots for urgent and semi-urgent referrals, wait-list maintenance, and increasing new referral clinic capacity). Data were collected prospectively. Descriptive analysis on mean wait times was done using run charts. Results:A 33% reduction in total number of referrals wait-listed was observed over 4.5 years after intervention. Descriptive analysis of the urgent and semi-urgent categories (P1 and P2) revealed a significant shift of mean wait times on run charts after the interventions. Target wait time was achieved in 94% of P1 category and 78% of P2 category. Limitations:This type of study design does not exclude confounding variables influencing results. We did not explore stakeholder satisfaction or whether the new referral process presented barriers to resending referrals that had insufficient triage data. The long-term sustainability of adding demand-responsive surge clinics and opportunity cost were not assessed. Our referral process and triage system have not been externally validated and may not be applicable in settings without wait-lists or settings that use electronic, telephone or telemedicine consults. Conclusion:Our selective intake of referrals with adequate triage information and referrals needing nephrology consult as defined by our clinic intake criteria reduced number of referrals wait-listed. We saw improved wait times for urgent and semi-urgent referrals with these categories now falling within target wait times for the vast majority of patients. The work of this improvement initiative continues especially for the lower-risk triage categories. Trial registration:Not applicable as this was a Quality improvement initiative.
Project description:The Wait Time Alliance recently established wait time benchmarks for rheumatology consultations in Canada. Our aim was to quantify wait times to primary and rheumatology care for patients with rheumatic diseases.We identified patients from primary care practices in the Electronic Medical Record Administrative data Linked Database who had referrals to Ontario rheumatologists over the period 2000-2013. To assess the full care pathway, we identified dates of symptom onset, presentation in primary care and referral from electronic medical records. Dates of rheumatologist consultations were obtained by linking with physician service claims. We determined the duration of each phase of the care pathway (symptom onset to primary care encounter, primary care encounter to referral, and referral to rheumatologist consultation) and compared them with established benchmarks.Among 2430 referrals from 168 family physicians, 2015 patients (82.9%) were seen by 146 rheumatologists within 1 year of referral. Of the 2430 referrals, 2417 (99.5%) occurred between 2005 and 2013. The main reasons for referral were osteoarthritis (32.4%) and systemic inflammatory rheumatic diseases (30.6%). Wait times varied by diagnosis and geographic region. Overall, the median wait time from referral to rheumatologist consultation was 74 (interquartile range 27-101) days; it was 66 (interquartile range 18-84) days for systemic inflammatory rheumatic diseases. Wait time benchmarks were not achieved, even for the most urgent types of referral. For systemic inflammatory rheumatic diseases, most of the delays occurred before referral.Rheumatology wait times exceeded established benchmarks. Targeted efforts are needed to promote more timely access to both primary and rheumatology care. Routine linkage of electronic medical records with administrative data may help fill important gaps in knowledge about waits to primary and specialty care.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Universal access to health care is valued in Canada but increasing wait times for services (eg, cardiology consultation) raise safety questions. Observations suggest that deficiencies in the process of care contribute to wait times. Consequently, an outpatient clinic was designed for Ensuring Access and Speedy Evaluation (Cardiac EASE) in a university group practice, providing cardiac consultative services for northern Alberta. Cardiac EASE has two components: a single-point-ofentry intake service (prospective testing using physician-approved algorithms and previsit triage) and a multidisciplinary clinic (staffed by cardiologists, nurse practitioners and doctoral-trained pharmacists). OBJECTIVES:It was hypothesized that Cardiac EASE would reduce the time to initial consultation and a definitive diagnosis, and also increase the referral capacity. METHODS:The primary and secondary outcomes were time from referral to initial consultation, and time to achieve a definitive diagnosis and management plan, respectively. A conventionally managed historical control group (three-month pre-EASE period in 2003) was compared with the EASE group (2004 to 2006). The conventional referral mechanism continued concurrently with EASE. RESULTS:A comparison between pre-EASE (n=311) and EASE (n=3096) revealed no difference in the mean (+/- SD) age (60+/-16 years), sex (55% and 52% men, respectively) or reason for referral, including chest pain (31% and 40%, respectively) and arrhythmia (27% and 29%, respectively). Cardiac EASE reduced the time to initial cardiac consultation (from 71+/-45 days to 33+/-19 days) and time to a definitive diagnosis (from 120+/-86 days to 51+/-58 days) (P<0.0001). The annual number of new referrals increased from 1512 in 2002 to 2574 in 2006 due to growth in the Cardiac EASE clinic. The number of patients seen through the conventional referral mechanism and their wait times remained constant during the study period. CONCLUSIONS:Cardiac EASE reduced wait times, increased capacity and shortened time to achieve a diagnosis. The EASE model could shorten wait times for consultative services in Canada.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Timely access to colonoscopy is a nationally recognized issue in Canada, with previous studies documenting significant wait times for a variety of indications. However, specific wait times for colonoscopy among patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer remain unknown. METHODS:A review of all outpatient cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed at colonoscopy in London, Ontario, in 2010 was performed. Wait times from the date of referral to colonoscopy were reviewed and compared with maximal wait times established by the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG) stratified according to indication. Cancer stage at the time of diagnosis was compared with colonoscopy wait times. RESULTS:A total of 106 colorectal cancer patients meeting the inclusion and exclusion criteria were included in the study. Forty-six per cent of patients waited longer than CAG targets, with a mean (± SD) wait time of 79 ± 101 days. Higher cancer stage was associated with shorter wait time, likely as a result of triaging. CONCLUSION:Long wait times for diagnostic colonoscopy among patients with colorectal cancer remain an issue, with a significant proportion of cases not meeting maximal CAG wait time targets.
Project description:BACKGROUND: In addition to possibly prolonged suffering and anxiety, extended waits for children's surgery beyond critical developmental periods has potential for lifelong impact. The goal of this study was to determine the duration of waits for surgery for children and youth at Canadian paediatric academic health sciences centres using clinically-derived access targets (i.e., the maximum acceptable waiting periods for completion of specific types of surgery) as used in this Canadian Paediatric Surgical Wait Times project. METHODS: We prospectively applied standardized wait-time targets for surgery, created by nominal-group consensus expert panels, to pediatric patients at children's health sciences centres across Canada with decision-to-treat dates of Sept. 1, 2007 or later. From Jan. 1 to Dec. 30, 2009, patients' actual wait times were compared with their target wait times to determine the percentage of patients receiving surgery after the target waiting period. RESULTS: Overall, 27% of pediatric patients from across Canada (17,411 of 64,012) received their surgery after their standardized target waiting period. Dentistry, ophthalmology, plastic surgery and cancer surgery showed the highest percentages of surgeries completed past target. INTERPRETATION: Many children wait too long for surgery in Canada. Specific attention is required, in particular, in dentistry, ophthalmology, plastic surgery and cancer care, to address children's wait times for surgery. Improved access may be realized with use of national wait-time targets.
Project description:Inefficient diagnostic practices for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may contribute to longer wait times, delaying access to intervention. The objectives were to describe the diagnostic practices of Canadian pediatricians and to identify determinants of longer wait time for ASD diagnosis.An online survey was conducted through the Canadian Paediatric Society's developmental pediatrics, community pediatrics, and mental health sections. Participants were asked for demographic information, whether they diagnosed ASD, and elements of their diagnostic assessment. A multiple linear regression of total wait time (time from referral to communication of the diagnosis to the family) as a function of practice characteristics was conducted.A total of 90 participants completed the survey, of whom 57 diagnosed ASD in their practices (63.3%). Respondents reported varied use of multi-disciplinary teams, with 53% reporting participation in a team. No two identically composed teams were reported. Respondents also had varied use of diagnostic tools, with 21% reporting no use of tools. The median reported total wait for ASD diagnosis time was 7 months (interquartile range 4-12 months). Longer time spent on assessment was the only variable that remained significantly associated with longer wait time in multiple regression (p?=?0.002). Use of diagnostic tools did not significantly affect wait time.Canadian ASD diagnostic practices vary widely and wait times for these assessments are substantial-7 months from referral to receipt of diagnosis. Time spent on the assessment is a significant determinant of wait time, highlighting the need for efficient assessment practices.
Project description:Background Rapid growth in transcatheter aortic valve replacement ( TAVR ) demand has translated to inadequate access, reflected by prolonged wait times. Increasing wait times are associated with important adverse outcomes while on the wait-list; however, it is unknown if prolonged wait times influence postprocedural outcomes. Our objective was to determine the association between TAVR wait times and postprocedural outcomes. Methods and Results In this population-based study in Ontario, Canada, we identified all TAVR procedures between April 1, 2010, and March 31, 2016. Wait time was defined as the number of days between initial referral and the procedure. Primary outcomes of interest were 30-day all-cause mortality and all-cause readmission. Multivariable regression models incorporated wait time as a nonlinear variable, using cubic splines. The study cohort included 2170 TAVR procedures, of which 1741 cases were elective and 429 were urgent. There was a significant, nonlinear relationship between TAVR wait time and post- TAVR 30-day mortality, as well as 30-day readmission. We observed an increased hazard associated with shorter wait times that diminished as wait times increased. This statistically significant nonlinear relationship was seen in the unadjusted model as well as after adjusting for clinical variables. However, after adjusting for case urgency status, there was no relationship between wait times and postprocedural outcomes. In sensitivity analyses restricted to either only elective or only urgent cases, there was no relationship between wait times and postprocedural outcomes. Conclusions Wait time has a complex relationship with postprocedural outcomes that is mediated entirely by urgency status. This suggests that further research should elucidate factors that predict hospitalization requiring urgent TAVR while on the wait list.