Fraser Health enhances info for surgical patients including Soonest Surgery Tool

The Soonest Surgery Tool predicts the five surgeons in Fraser Health most likely able to perform a specific surgical procedure sooner than others. This tool is just one of the features in a new section of Fraser Health’s website that provides a wealth of information for surgical patients and their families.

“Long surgical wait times are a challenge across the country, says Dr. Nigel Murray, Fraser Health’s CEO. “While a knee replacement or hernia repair might not be urgent, for the individuals waiting, it can be an unpleasant experience. The Soonest Surgery Tool is one way we can inform patients of surgical wait times so that they are able to make informed decisions about their surgery,” says Dr. Murray.

Fraser Health serves more than 1.6 million people in communities along a 200km corridor east of Vancouver, BC. There are 250 surgeons operating in 50 operating rooms in ten hospitals under a consolidated surgical services program. Keeping GPs up to date on surgical specialists and their wait lists is a challenge. Any patient can be referred to any surgeon in the region. With this tool, it will help coordinate regional access as one way to expedite surgeries. While it is difficult for GPs to know the surgical specialists in other communities, this tool should assist them to refer to surgeons that are most likely to be able to do their surgery sooner.

The Soonest Surgery Tool

Using data that is collected on a regular basis for the B.C. Ministry of Health’s Surgical Patient Registry, the software program called the “Soonest Surgery Tool” was developed.

Patients or GPs can choose a surgical procedure from a drop down list (the tool for patients includes a plain language definition) and are provided with the names of five surgeons randomly, based on calculations that include throughput in the past four months and current wait list.

Dr. Erdem Yazganoglu, Manager of the Surgical Patient Registry, Provincial Health Services Authority, says he expects other health authorities in B.C. to be interested in the project. “Using data we’re already collecting and transforming that data into a tool that is simple to use and provides information that GPs and patients can easily access is a great idea. Fraser Health made a commitment early on to consider the potential for replication when developing the software,” says Yazganoglu.

In addition to the Soonest Surgery Tool, Fraser Health is closing gaps in patient education with significantly expanded information and resources for surgical patients and their families. Content of the web pages and printable booklet include:

•    Questions to ask your family doctor
•    Questions to ask your surgeon
•    Interactive decision aids
•    A video about talking to your doctor about surgery and getting second opinions
•    Videos about Preparing for General Surgery and Orthopedic Surgery
•    Links to videos of various surgical procedures
•    Forms & checklists for patients to be prepared with a list of medications, information they need to give and get from their employer, a form to keep track of pre-op appointments, things to purchase, making plans for help at home
•    Surgical patient safety procedures
•    What to expect on the day of surgery
•    How to care for an incision
•    Taking and tracking medication
•    Getting help in an emergency after going home
•    Information for family and friends about how they can help

“Patients will now have far more information about how to prepare themselves for surgery,” says Dr. Peter Blair, Program Medical Director for Surgical Services at Fraser Health. “They’ll know how to prepare physically and they’ll be better prepared psychologically by knowing what to expect. We’ve included checklists and medication tracking sheets.  We will reduce the stress for our patients as much as possible and encourage them to be physical prepared to achieve better outcomes.”