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Ontario’s wait time system wins innovation award

TORONTO – Cancer Care Ontario has received a  prestigious gold award for Innovation Management from the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) for developing and deploying a Wait Time Information System (WTIS), a critical component of Ontario’s Wait Time Strategy.

“Ontario has moved from being a laggard to being a leader in the field of wait time information management,” said Dr. Alan Hudson (pictured), Lead, Wait Time Strategy and Access to Services. “The Wait Time Information System is a critical part of Ontario’s strategy to reduce wait times and more than 250,000 Ontarians will benefit annually from its ability to track and share the most timely and accurate information.”

The 2007 IPAC awards focused on New Service Breakthroughs with Technology and celebrated and encouraged innovative managerial initiatives in public administration. The Wait Time Information System was selected from 53 nominations from across the country for exceptional management in public administration.

“It is extremely rewarding to be recognized on a national scale for the Wait Time Information System,” said Sarah Kramer, Lead for the Wait Time Information Management Strategy and VP and CIO for Cancer Care Ontario. “This award acknowledges the Ontario government’s steadfast commitment to report to the public on the performance of the healthcare system and reflects the combined efforts of hospitals, healthcare professionals and various public and private sector partners across the province.”

In less than two years, Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) has delivered two province-wide systems that are now transforming Ontario’s health system. The WTIS is the first provincial system to capture accurate and timely wait time data.

CCO also concurrently implemented Ontario’s Client Registry/Enterprise Master Patient Index (EMPI) to support the WTIS in accurately identifying patients within and across hospitals. Ontario’s Client Registry/EMPI sets a foundation for an electronic health record and will be used for other local and provincial e-Health initiatives in the future.

As of June 2007, staff from 81 Ontario hospitals and 1,700 surgeons’ offices, are using the WTIS and Ontario’s Client Registry/EMPI to improve access to care.

Today in Ontario wait-time data for cancer surgery, cataract surgery, cardiac surgery, hip and knee replacement surgery, and MRI and CT scans are being captured in near real-time and reported publicly through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s website,

Clinicians and patients now have better information for decision-making and the public has access to information to hold government and other healthcare leaders accountable for wait times. Initially developed to capture information in five key areas, CCO has been mandated by the government to lead the expansion of the WTIS. Beginning spring 2008, the WTIS will be expanded to include all surgical procedures for adults and paediatrics by end of March 2009.

Wait Time Information System (WTIS) and Ontario’s Client Registry/Enterprise Master Patient Index (EMPI)
The WTIS is a provincial, patient-centred system that provides timely and accurate reporting of wait times to the public from hospitals. The WTIS helps clinicians, administrators and health system managers better monitor and manage access to healthcare services. Ontario’s Client Registry/EMPI is the largest patient/client registry in Canada, containing more than 48 million records and information from 62 sources including hospitals, other healthcare organizations and the WTIS.

The Wait Time Strategy
Ontario’s Wait Time Strategy is designed to reduce wait times by improving access to healthcare services for adult Ontarians in five key areas. The Strategy will result in a comprehensive, patient-centred surgical care system that monitors and manages wait times, and makes wait time information available to the public and providers.

Cancer Care Ontario
Cancer Care Ontario is the provincial agency that steers and coordinates Ontario’s cancer services and prevention efforts so that fewer people get cancer and patients receive the highest quality of care. As a recognized leader in provincial systems implementation, CCO, under the direction of Sarah Kramer, was asked by Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in 2004 to manage the development and deployment of the provincial Wait Time Information System.