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Based on today's news headlines, wait times has clearly captured the attention of governments, health providers and the public. This morning, Premier McGuinty and Minister Smitherman unveiled wait times, by hospital, for the government's five priority areas: hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery, cancer surgery, MRI/CT and select cardiac procedures. Beginning with data from July 2005, individuals can now check the Ontario Wait Time website at
www.health.gov.on.ca to find how many patients are waiting for surgery, where they are waiting and for how long.
Led by Dr. Alan Hudson, the website is a key part of the provincial wait times strategy. Updated every two months, the website will help the government and providers identify potential "bottlenecks" in the system and devise solutions to improve access. Most importantly, patients can ask their physicians to refer them to a particular hospital for treatment and physicians can use this information to help guide patient-referral decisions.
UHN is very enthusiastic about the province's wait times strategy. Last year, we became one of the first hospitals in Ontario to post more than 125 wait times for different medical and surgical procedures under a special section of our website called "Earning Your Trust." The section features the most recently measured wait times and the desired target time based on available benchmarks.
As with any new provincial reporting system, it's not unexpected to encounter a few data capturing and reporting "glitches" along the way. Some of UHN's median wait times (from time of decision to operate to operation) were not published on the Ministry's website. I've been assured that the correct information will be posted in two months. The correct data can be found on UHN's website under "Earning Your Trust." As we move forward, hospitals and the Ministry will continue to refine their data reporting process to ensure timely accuracy.
Ontario is making real strides in moving towards an integrated and transparent health care system. Following Saskatchewan's model, the Ontario Wait Times website will eventually include information on every type of surgery being performed in the province. I'm also encouraged by the commitment made by provincial, federal and territorial Ministers of Health, this past weekend, to establish evidence-based, national benchmarks for the five areas by December 31, 2005. I encourage everyone to take a look at the Ontario Wait Time Strategy website.