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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Transforming "Wait" Wise

With over 250,000 obese people living in the Capital Health Region, it should be no surprise that there is currently a waiting list of over 2000 people to be seen in the Adult Weight Management Program (as this is less than 1% of all obese people in the CH Region, I am frankly surprised the list is not far bigger!).

So perhaps it is timely that several of us from WW just spent the last two days at the first of a series of workshops called Alberta AIM (Access Improvement Measures) that should take us from an 18 month waiting list to a "same-day" appointment over the next year or so.

If anyone thinks that this is impossible, you are probably not alone in thinking so, because I am a big a sceptic myself. On the other hand, there is no question that WW could be made a lot more efficient and significantly improve not just the throughput of patients but also the quality of care (however we decide to measure it).

There is no question that much of the effort that goes into managing a waiting list (and the angry, frustrated, disappointed and frantic patients who are in it) could be channelled into better access.

In order to do this we need to look at both macro an micro factors that affect the list. I guess some of the basic questions to ask are:

  • Who is waiting?
  • What are they waiting for?
  • Are they in the correct line?
  • Can they be doing things while in the line?
  • Do we even need a line?
Well, we've taken back a bit of homework from the workshop (which is just the first in a whole 18 month process of change):

We need to look at "demand", determine our "supply", and look at where we can eliminate inefficiencies that are clogging up the system.

While I may have been sceptical when I first heard I was attending this workshop, I must admit my scepticism has been tempered - in fact, I believe it is fair to say that all of us, who on behalf of WW had the opportunity to attend this workshop, have come away with a huge surge of enthusiasm and optimism that we can turn things around - we have a whole slew of interesting ideas that we will be discussing with all of you over the coming weeks and months.

This will not be a "top-down" change. The biggest (or rather the many small) changes that will really make a difference will be at the front line and will need your help and support. It is going to be a most exciting journey.


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