Ontario Wait Times
Ontario’s Emergency Room Wait Time Strategy
Reducing the time people spend in the ER is a complex health system issue. It cannot be solved by focusing on the hospital ER alone. Prompt emergency care requires making improvements across the entire system – from providing patients with information on alternative options where they can receive immediate, unscheduled health care to supporting timely discharge from the ER to a hospital bed, to home or to other appropriate care settings.
Ontario has a strategy to achieve this goal by:
Expanding Alternatives to ER Services
To help patients make appropriate health care choices and to ease pressures across the system, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is :
- Supporting patients with chronic conditions
- Creating more urgent care centres
- Increasing public awareness that the ER is not the only option for people who need immediate, unscheduled care.
Increasing Capacity and Improving ER Processes
To help hospitals reduce the time patients spend in the ER and improve their admission and core operating processes, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is :
- Providing dedicated funding to hospitals which demonstrate measurable quantifiable reductions in the time patients spend in the ER
- Activities to increase health human resource capacity
- Focusing on improving various hospital processes.
Faster Discharging for ALC Patients
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is supporting earlier discharges for ALC patients by :
- Increased home care and community supports
- Increased capacity through the development of long-term care and transitional beds
- Community programs and outreach services
- A standardized definition for ALC patients to help hospitals better track and determine the appropriate discharge of patients.
Measuring and Reporting Patient Time Spent in ERs
Reporting time spent in ER information on this public website means that health care providers can track and assess :
- The time patients spend in the ER at the local level
- Their progress to reducing this time and improving ER performance.
In addition to the initiatives announced through the Ontario government’s ER Strategy in May 2008, the government recently launched two more initiatives to improve ER performance and reduce the time patients spend in the ER :
- Your Health Care Options, a website for Ontarians to get information on health care options in their communities, including urgent care centres, walk-in clinics, family health teams, etc.
- Health Care Connect, Ontario's new program to help people without a family health care provider to find one.
Performance Management Approach
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is using a Performance Management Framework to help ensure that the goals of the ER Wait Time Strategy are achieved., The framework is supported by :
- Quarterly ER/ALC Stocktake Reports - The term "stocktake" literally means to take stock of LHIN and provincial performance related to ER /ALC. The reports have information on Ontario’s progress towards achieving the goals of the ER / ALC Strategy at the provincial and LHIN levels.
- Performance management discussions take place between the Assistant Deputy Minister, Health System Accountability and Performance at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the LHINs at quarterly results meetings.
The first round of Quarterly Stocktake Reporting was completed in May 2009.
For More Information
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