The ConsultLoop Wait Time Report: Data Shines Its Light is available for download here.
The wait to see a specialist is an important period in healthcare, both for the patient and the referring clinician. Patients describe this period as one of anxiety, frustration and confusion, where all they can really do is wait. For family doctors and nurse practitioners, it represents a delay in getting expert advice or treatments, which can sometimes be difficult to manage clinically and personally.
Being a period of transition, there is also a risk of faxes getting lost, a lack of coordination around notifying the patient, and a risk of no-shows due to none other than good intentions being wasted by bad processes. This compromises patient safety, patient experience, and does so at the expense of clinical overhead budgets. Physicians pay dearly for the manual, ineffective referral processes we have today.
Today, we release our report on wait times and response times in Ontario: “The ConsultLoop Wait Time Report: Data Shines Its Light”. We managed 12,468 referrals in the first 9 months of 2018, sent to 2,192 specialists in Ontario. This constitutes the largest dataset of referrals that we are aware of in Canada. At ConsultLoop, we calculate provider wait times and response times on a quarterly basis to update the the information for individual listings in our specialist directory, now including 5,500 specialists throughout Ontario.
For this report, we included all twenty-six specialties with more than thirty referrals over the study’s time period, and took an average of the wait times for providers in that specialty. The average wait between specialties is 61.7 days (range 29.5-98.2), lead by Sports Medicine, Infectious Disease and Cardiology as the specialties with the shortest wait time. We found that 42% of patients are seen within 4 weeks.
This study breaks new ground in reporting response times by specialty. We see here that the average response time between specialties is 19.6 days (range 11.6-28.3), lead by Infectious Disease, Cardiology and Rheumatology as the specialties who reply quickest to a referral request.
This report’s methodology is starkly different from others published by high-profile organizations such as CIHI/Commonwealth Foundation and HQO, and the Fraser Institute. None of these reports use actual referral journeys to gather their data, relying instead on smaller phone surveys of patients, or paid surveys of physicians. We believe that our report demonstrates the potential of digital health to provide a valuable service that improves quality, while generating the data to inform decisions happening thousands of times a day in clinical environments throughout the province.
You can download the full report here with its summary data tables. We hope that this not only sparks interest in our work, but in that of digital health companies, like ours, that prioritize connectivity, usability, and patient inclusion in order to generate data that is valid, relevant and impactful on individual patient journeys.