B.C. pilot project for ER wait times
– A pilot project aimed at decongesting crowded Emergency Rooms at four
British Columbia hospitals has succeeded in reducing wait times. The
B.C. project, headed by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and
Providence Health Care, included emergency departments at Vancouver
General Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital, Richmond Hospital and Lions Gate
The project found that 25 percent more patients experienced shorter wait
times for treatment in the first half of this year compared to the same
period in 2007.
Dr. Jeff Coleman (pictured), Chief Operating Officer for Richmond Health
Services, told the Canadian Press that emergency departments at four
other hospitals in New Westminster, Burnaby, Surrey and Abbotsford will
be included in a future pilot project.
“We’ll want to share it with other emergency systems certainly, across
the province, and we’re also looking at how do you apply
pay-for-performance or incentive-based funding formula to other areas -
like surgery and so on.”
Coleman, who is also an emergency doctor at Richmond Hospital, said some
basic changes led to speedier service in the ERs. They included having a
doctor, along with nurses, assess patients as they came into the
emergency department instead of having people wait to see a doctor.
Changes also included bedside registration that involved a clerk
wheeling a computer to a patient who didn’t have to stay in a waiting
The results of the pilot project were most striking at two community
hospitals - Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver and Richmond
At Lions Gate, 57 percent of patients requiring admission were moved to
a bed within a 10-hour target, compared to 39 percent before the study.
In Richmond, 67 percent of emergency room patients who needed to be
admitted were placed in a bed outside the ER within 10 hours, compared
to 39 percent before the pay-for-performance incentives were introduced.
Hospitals in Britain and some European countries receive so-called
activity-based funding and proponents of that system say Canada should
do the same to increase productivity and slash wait lists.