Ontario doctors offer a solution to wait times

TORONTO, February 16, 2022 /CNW/ – from Ontario doctors are proposing an innovative new model of care that would reduce wait times by moving many elective and less complex surgeries to outpatient centers.

The Ontario Medical Association today released a comprehensive report recommending the creation of publicly funded integrated ambulatory centres. These stand-alone centers would work with local hospitals to provide OHIP-insured medical services, including surgeries and procedures, on an outpatient basis.

This would free up hospital beds and operating rooms, allowing them to focus on more complex, acute and urgent patients and procedures, and reduce wait times.

“Outpatient centers in other jurisdictions have been shown to provide a more satisfying patient experience,” said OMA President Dr. Adam Kassam. “In addition to shorter wait times, patients spend less time in outpatient settings than they do in hospitals and can safely go home the same day. This is combined with an improved physician and provider experience, while being able to achieve efficiencies in acute care and community care.”

Wait times were an issue in Ontario before the COVID-19 pandemic exposed flaws in the healthcare system, with wait times for many procedures longer than recommended.

A new analysis released today by the OMA found that on top of these existing issues, the pandemic has created a backlog of more than 21 million patient services that will take months and in some cases years to clear. This includes a backlog of more than one million surgeries at the end of 2021, but also preventative care, cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies, and diagnostic tests such as MRIs and CT scans.

The numbers will increase when we learn how many surgeries and procedures were canceled during the elective procedure pause due to the Omicron variant and when the unknown number of “missing patients” who did not contact the healthcare system for the pandemic are included.

Dr Kassam said the health system now needs to clear the backlog when implementing the new integrated outpatient center model, which could take five to eight years.

With the increasing sophistication of surgical tools and techniques and new options for pain management and anesthesia, many less complex surgeries and procedures could be moved from hospitals to integrated outpatient centers. Examples include cataract surgeries, hernia repairs, hysterectomies, hip and knee surgeries, endoscopies, ear, nose and throat surgeries, and breast reconstruction after breast cancer.

The OMA proposal is fully compliant with the Canada Health Act and there would be no user fees or queues. The centers would be fully integrated into the publicly funded and administered health system.

Experience in other provinces and countries, as well as at the Kensington Eye Institute in Ontario, shows that ambulatory centers can operate under this model. They also have faster recovery times, lower infection rates and 20-30% efficiency gains over hospital care.

from Ontario Doctors believe this new model of care, the most significant change in ambulatory care in 30 years, would enjoy broad public support.

A recent Ipsos poll conducted for the OMA found that Ontarians want the government to prioritize addressing the health service backlog built up during the pandemic, even if it means a short-term impact on economic recovery. . In that same survey, 96% of respondents said they supported the five pillars of the OMA’s roadmap to improving the healthcare system over the next four years, Order for Ontario: Physicians’ 5-point plan for better health care. The first of the five pillars is reducing the backlog and reducing wait times.

“Waiting times for surgery are a major issue for patients in Ontario“, said the CEO of OMA Allan O’Dette. “Ambulatory centers offer the government an opportunity to help reduce those and get patients the high-quality care they need sooner.”

Additional Resources:
Integrated Ambulatory Center FAQs
Video: President of the OMA, Dr. Adam Kassam sharing recommendations to eliminate the surgical backlog in Ontario
Video: Dr. Adam Kassam explains how integrated ambulatory centers would help
Infographic: Integrated Ambulatory Centers
Infographic: The impact of the pandemic on health services in Ontario

About OMA

The Ontario Medical Association represents from Ontario More than 43,000 physicians, medical students and retired physicians, advocating and supporting physicians while strengthening the leadership role of physicians in patient care. Our vision is to be the trusted voice in transformation from Ontario health care system.

SOURCE Ontario Medical Association

For further information: Leslie Shepherd, Director, Social and Earned Media, Ontario Medical Association, [email protected]

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