Improving the patient experience by reducing wait times

Improving each patient’s experience is a top priority at Mackenzie Health and thanks to a hospital-wide focus on reducing , the hospital is now among Ontario’s top performers. is meeting and exceeding provincial wait time targets in a variety of areas from cancer and orthopedic surgery to emergency care, MRI and CT. In addition to providing care in shorter times, many of these wait time reductions occurred while the number of patients increased, making the improvements even more remarkable.

Mackenzie Health’s commitment to improving the is highlighted by the introductions of its Wildly Important Goals (WIGs), which are identified annually for the entire health care team to focus on. When a WIG is achieved, it results in a major breakthrough for the organization and makes a big difference for patients. Recognizing that reducing wait times is a key influencer for improving patient satisfaction, these are two of the organization’s WIGs for the year.

“By making shorter wait times a top, organization-wide priority, we’ve been able to harness the strength and talent of our entire health care team and make progress towards our goals. Thanks to these efforts, patients at Mackenzie Health can expect shorter wait times for many of our services,” says Jo-anne Marr, Vice-President Patient Services and Chief Nurse Executive, Mackenzie Health.

Cancer and orthopedic surgeries

Wait times for a number of cancer and orthopedic surgeries at Mackenzie Health are among the best in Ontario. For example, the wait time of 35 days for genitourinary cancer surgery is among the top 10 in the province. Moreover, the wait time of 26 days for patients requiring breast cancer surgery is well below the provincial target of 84 days.

In addition, the wait times for a variety of orthopedic surgeries, including shoulder, spine and tibia are significantly better than provincial targets and among the top 10 Ontario-wide. Mackenzie Health continues to perform well for a variety of other surgeries such as Sino-Nasal Surgery and Thyroid Surgery where wait times are among the10 best in Ontario.

Emergency department

Mackenzie Health also continues to make progress reducing wait times in its emergency department (ED). For patients who don’t need to be admitted, the wait time of 3.7 hours is better than the target of 4.0 hours. While there are opportunities for improvement for patients with serious conditions who need to be admitted, so far in 2012 Mackenzie Health has made considerable progress and has reduced these wait times by 42 per cent (as of August 2012). Moreover, the ED saw an additional 500 patients in August compared to January 2012.

To further improve wait times in the ED, the health care team at Mackenzie Health continues to identify ways to optimize the discharge process to improve patient flow in this busy department. The hospital also continues to utilize short-stay beds, which help to reduce the time patients spend waiting in the ED and allows testing and treatment to begin much sooner. These improvements allow patients to receive the right care, at the right time.

Medical imaging

In the Medical Imaging Department, wait times for important diagnostic tests have decreased significantly. For example, wait times for MRI scans have been reduced by 56 per cent while the number of patients seen increased by 47 per cent. Wait times for ultrasound decreased by 70 per cent while the number of patients seen increased by 20 per cent. Patients needing a CT scan can be seen in 22 days, significantly faster than the provincial average of 37 days.

All of these improvements are the result of a wide variety of initiatives. The team in medical imaging reviewed patient satisfaction scores and identified areas for improvement. They also established a three year strategy which enabled everyone to focus on the same goals. By developing a plan to achieve better results and having a team in place to achieve the results, patients at Mackenzie Health are now benefitting by receiving important test results sooner.

Sustaining results

“Central LHIN wishes to acknowledge the outcomes of the efforts of the nurses, clinicians and leadership of Mackenzie Health and their continued focus on system level priorities that improves access to people who receive care in Central LHIN. We are proud of the progress that’s being made and we will continue to work collaboratively with our health service providers to attain positive results in the future,” says Kim Baker, Chief Executive Officer, Central LHIN.

Mackenzie Health is now focused on sustaining the results it has achieved as well as continuing to implement tactics to reduce wait times for further improvements. By setting goals intrinsically linked to each other, the organization is embracing a culture shift which will continue to lead to improvements for patients.

“I am very pleased with the significant improvements Mackenzie Health has made in reducing our wait times. While there is still more to achieve, this is a great example of how our staff and physicians are working hard to create a world-class healthcare experience,” says Altaf Stationwala, President and CEO, Mackenzie Health.