Wait time from primary to specialty care: a trend analysis from Edmonton, Canada.


Abstract: Medical wait time is a top health policy issue in Canada. Reliable data on the referral wait time from primary to specialty care are limited. Existing data on referral wait times are generally self-reported by specialists. In 2008, the Edmonton North Primary Care Network (PCN) developed a Centralized Referral Program, including a specialist database that contains information on specialists' referral requirements, forms and protocols, and has the capability of tracking referrals that the PCN makes on behalf of its family physicians to specialty care. We performed a trend analysis of the referral wait time (defined as the time from referral by a family physician to an appointment date with a specialist) from 2009 to 2011 using the program database (n=33,281 referrals). The study provided a unique and comprehensive picture of wait times for 22 specialties. We identified a decrease in the overall wait time year over year, and improvement in the number of referrals that are accepted the first time. Additionally, specific opportunities for further improvement in referral wait time were noted.

Publication Type: Journal Articles

Year of Publication: 2013

Topics: Healthcare Services

Authors: Thanh Nguyen, Margaret Wanke, Leanne McGeachy

ISSN: 1715-6572

ISSN (online): 1715-6580

Journal Title: Healthcare Policy

Volume: 8

Issue: 4

Pages: 35-44