Reducing Wait Times and Readmissions
Canadians are generally proud of their healthcare system. Universal access, however, combined with high demand for limited resources, have led to a gap in service availability that often results in long wait times for patients.
Dr. Hossein Abouee Mehrizi, Canada Research Chair in Healthcare Operations Management, is pursuing ways to help hospitals better meet their target wait times and reduce how often patients are readmitted; he knows that long delays waiting for services can cause anxiety, pain and reduced quality of life—potentially even putting patients’ lives at risk.
This is one reason why Canada adopted a point-based emergency room triage system, one prioritizing patients based on the urgency of their need. To ensure that patients with lower priorities are not kept waiting for an unreasonable amount of time, the system also covers specific wait time targets for each point score.
In practice, meeting these target wait times has proven challenging. While there have been many promising recommendations and initiatives in recent years—including efforts to admit more high-risk patients by freeing up in-patient beds more quickly—research has found that shorter lengths of hospital stay reliably lower patient readmission rates.
Dr. Abouee Mehrizi is addressing these issues by designing a dynamic new patient-prioritization system, aimed at allowing hospitals to quickly adapt to changing circumstances. Future projects include the development and testing of new guidelines for hospital discharges.
Abouee Mehrizi’s research will help hospitals meet target wait times, reduce patient readmissions and provide better healthcare for Canadians.