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Wait times strategies

Wait-times data council created in Ontario

TORONTO – The Ontario government has announced the launch of a more patient-friendly wait time website and the creation of an independent Wait Time Data Certification Council.

“We’ve made some important changes to the Ontario wait times website, which has already received more than three million hits since it was first launched in 2005,” said Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman. “The website is the window for the public to see how well we’re doing in improving access.

“More importantly,” he added, “it gives patients and doctors the information they need to make decisions about the healthcare 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 healthcare 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;
• 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 (pictured above), Chair of Cancer Quality Council of Ontario.

Since 2005, the Ontario government has invested $614 million in more than 700,000 additional procedures and innovative healthcare partnerships, and claims that 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 five key health service areas in comparison to when the first comprehensive wait times data was collected in August-September of 2005.

“This new expert committee and the redesigned website are important steps in reporting on wait times and identifying opportunities for improving access to healthcare 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.”