To describe the substantive and procedural criteria used for placing patients on the waiting list for liver transplantation and for allocating available livers to patients on the waiting list; to identify principal decision-makers and the main factors limiting liver transplantation in Canada; and to examine how closely cadaveric liver allocation resembles theoretic models of source allocation.
Medical directors of all seven Canadian adult liver transplantation centres, or their designates. Six of the questionnaires were completed.
Relative importance of substantive and procedural criteria used to place patients in the waiting list for liver transplantation and to allocate available livers. Identification of principal decision-makers and main limiting factors to adult liver transplantation.
Alcoholism, drug addiction, HIV positivity, primary liver cancer, noncompliance and hepatitis B were the most important criteria that had a negative influence on decisions to place patients on the waiting list for liver transplantation. Severity of disease and urgency were the most important criteria used for selecting patients on the waiting list for transplantation. Criteria that were inconsistent across the centres included social support (for deciding who is placed on the waiting list) and length of time on the waiting list (for deciding who is selected from the list). Although a variety of people were reported as being involved in these decisions, virtually all were reported to be health to be health care professionals. Thirty-seven patients died while waiting for liver transplantation in 1991; the scarcity of cadaveric livers was the main limiting factor.
Criteria for resource allocation decisions regarding liver transplantation are generally consistent among the centres across Canada, although some important inconsistencies remain. Because patients die while on the waiting list and because the primary limiting factor is organ supply, increased organ acquisition efforts are needed.
Facing a projected $1.4M deficit on a $35M operating budget for fiscal year 2011/2012, members of the Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine developed and implemented an explicit, transparent, criteria-based priority setting process for resource reallocation. A task group that included representatives from across the Faculty of Medicine used a program budgeting and marginal analysis (PBMA) framework, which provided an alternative to the typical public-sector approaches to addressing a budget deficit of across-the-board spending cuts and political negotiation. Key steps to the PBMA process included training staff members and department heads on priority setting and resource reallocation, establishing process guidelines to meet immediate and longer-term fiscal needs, developing a reporting structure and forming key working groups, creating assessment criteria to guide resource reallocation decisions, assessing disinvestment proposals from all departments, and providing proposal implementation recommendations to the dean. All departments were required to submit proposals for consideration. The task group approved 27 service reduction proposals and 28 efficiency gains proposals, totaling approximately $2.7M in savings across two years. During this process, the task group faced a number of challenges, including a tight timeline for development and implementation (January to April 2011), a culture that historically supported decentralized planning, at times competing interests (e.g., research versus teaching objectives), and reductions in overall health care and postsecondary education government funding. Overall, faculty and staff preferred the PBMA approach to previous practices. Other institutions should use this example to set priorities in times of fiscal constraints.
In Norway, elder care is primarily a municipal responsibility. Municipal health services strive to offer the 'lowest level of effective care,' and home healthcare services are defined as the lowest level of care in Norway. Municipalities determine the type(s) of service and the amount of care applicants require. The services granted are outlined in an individual decision letter, which serves as a contract between the municipality and the home healthcare recipient. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the scope and duration of home healthcare services allocated by municipalities and to determine where home care recipients live in relation to home healthcare service offices.
A document analysis was performed on data derived from 833 letters to individuals allocated home care services in two municipalities in Northern Norway (Municipality A = 500 recipients, Municipality B = 333 recipients).
In Municipality A, 74% of service hours were allotted to home health nursing, 12% to practical assistance, and 14% to support contact; in Municipality B, the distribution was 73%, 19%, and 8%, respectively. Both municipalities allocated home health services with no service end date (41% and 85% of the total services, respectively). Among recipients of "expired" services, 25% in Municipality A and 7% in Municipality B continued to receive assistance.
Our findings reveal that the municipalities adhered to the goal for home care recipients to remain at home as long as possible before moving into a nursing home. The findings also indicate that the system for allocating home healthcare services may not be fair, as the municipalities lacked procedures for revising individual decisions. Our findings indicate that local authorities should closely examine how they design individual decisions and increase their awareness of how long a service should be provided.
Cites: BMC Health Serv Res. 2014 Sep 26;14:439 PMID 25258004
Cites: Br J Community Nurs. 2010 Oct;15(10):497-502 PMID 20966846
In 2005, the median waiting time for total hip and knee joint replacements in Ontario was greater than 6 months, which is considered longer than clinically appropriate. Demand is expected to increase and exacerbate already long waiting times. Solutions are needed to reduce waiting times and improve waiting list management.
We developed a discrete event simulation model of the Ontario total joint replacement system to evaluate the effects of 4 management strategies on waiting times: (1) reductions in surgical demand; (2) formal clinical prioritization; (3) waiting time guarantees; and (4) common waiting list management.
If the number of surgeries performed increases by less than 10% each year, then demand must be reduced by at least 15% to ensure that, within 10 years, 90% of patients receive surgery within their maximum recommended waiting time. Clinically prioritizing patients reduced waiting times for high-priority patients and increased the number of patients at all priority levels who received surgery each year within recommended maximum waiting times by 9.3%. A waiting time guarantee for all patients provided fewer surgeries within recommended waiting times. Common waiting list management improved efficiency and increased equity in waiting across regions.
Dramatically increasing the supply of joint replacement surgeries or diverting demand for surgeries to other jurisdictions will reduce waiting times for total joint replacement surgery. Introducing a strictly adhered to patient prioritization scheme will ensure that more patients receive surgery within severity-specific waiting time targets. Implementing a waiting time guarantee for all patients will not reduce waiting times--it will only shuffle waiting times from some patients to others. To reduce waiting times to clinically acceptable levels within 10 years, increases in the number of surgeries provided greater than those observed historically or reductions in demand are needed.
Initiatives aimed at reducing wait times for surgical and diagnostic procedures and comprehensive chronic disease management programs focus, respectively, on the supply and demand aspects of access to healthcare. Addressing either in isolation can have a salutary health effect for segments of the population and produce system improvement. Approaching healthcare access issues even more broadly, in the context of population health and with a patient-centred perspective, carries the promise of sustainability, the potential for superior health outcomes across a continuum of patient care and the possibility of enhanced system competency through true integration of multiple sectors. A model for comprehensive access to health services includes a plan for a network of primary care providers, appropriate capacity and flow efficiency for the provision of unplanned (emergency) services, operationalization of wait times initiatives to sustain planned services (most surgeries and diagnostic procedures) and a strategy for decreasing demand for care by engaging primary and community care capabilities and a robust chronic disease management strategy.
Cardiac rehabilitation programs develop in accordance with guidelines, but also in response to local needs and resources. This study evaluated features of Ontario cardiac rehabilitation programs in accordance with guidelines, emerging evidence and treating underserved populations.
In this cross-sectional study, all Ontario cardiac rehabilitation programs were mailed an investigator-generated survey. Responses were received from 38 of 45 (84.4%) programs.
Twenty-seven (71.1%) cardiac rehabilitation programs were located within a hospital. Twenty-four (63.2%) programs reported that they offer two sessions of exercise and education per week. Twenty-six (68.4%) programs offered an alternative model of program delivery other than on-site, with 10 (27.0%) programs reporting they tailored their programs to rural patients. Twenty-three (62.2%) programs provided services to patients with a noncardiac primary indication. Twenty-six (68.4%) programs systematically screened patients for depressive symptoms. Twenty-seven (71.1%) offered resources to patients postgraduation.
Most cardiac rehabilitation programs offered alternative models of care, such as home-based rehabilitation. Cardiac rehabilitation sites are well integrated within their community, enabling smooth postcardiac rehabilitation transitions for patients. Cardiac rehabilitation programs continue to offer proven comprehensive components, while simultaneously attempting to adapt to meet the needs of patients with other chronic diseases.
This case study describes the priority-setting process undertaken by health care providers in the Municipal District of Taber, Alta., to improve and integrate chronic disease services within a fixed budget.
Providers first reviewed the current chronic disease management system, then considered alternatives based on program priorities and costs and benefits of potential changes.
Despite reaching consensus that a chronic disease clinic was the top priority for funding, providers were unable to redesign services accordingly. Redesign efforts were hampered by the groups' difficulty in identifying services that should receive fewer resources in order to fund priority areas, inexperience with priority-setting frameworks, group composition, the belief that many programs were already at "bare bone" funding levels, and perceptions of limited budget control. In the end, recommendations were made to use attrition to release resources, establish multi-disciplinary teams and group visits, where appropriate, and relocate providers to a centralized location. Upon review of study outcomes, Taber providers were granted more decision-making authority.
Overall, the use of a systematic priority-setting process, culminating in recommendations for action, has moved Taber providers closer to an integrated model of service delivery. It is recommended that formal priority-setting frameworks continue to be used in Taber for primary care renewal or at any level where consideration of existing evidence and projected costs is required.
The authors of the lead essay present a compelling case for the development and implementation of a national strategy on chronic disease prevention and management (CDPM). The literature demonstrates that the Chronic Care Model can improve quality and reduce costs. Substantial evidence supports the role of health information technologies such as electronic health records (EHRs) in achieving these goals. However, an interoperable pan-Canadian health infostructure does not exist; funding is required to establish this across the continuum of care. An investment of $350 per capita would provide a robust health technology platform to support a national CDPM strategy. Such an investment would deliver annual benefits of $6-$7.6 billion; this could be leveraged to support national healthcare priorities such as CDPM. EHRs will improve decisions about care, reduce system errors and increase efficiency. They will also improve our ability to measure, assess and manage care. We cannot run a high-performing health system without sound data. This was a key step to enabling progress on wait times management. Leadership is required if a national CDPM strategy is to become reality. The authors made a convincing case for the development of a national strategy; we need to turn their words into actionable events to gain necessary momentum.
This response to the essay is a "view from the trenches" by two doctors who have worked over 23 years at the Group Health Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. We would agree wholeheartedly that reducing wait times for selected procedures will not transform our health system, although they are a start that does provide improved quality of life for a relatively small number of people. We have struggled with the care gap between known best practices and the reality of care provided, from the perspectives of both prevention and chronic disease management. This has resulted in an acute awareness of the need for an across-the-system, "bottom-up" approach to the prevention of disease and management of healthcare. Limited resources must be carefully leveraged in innovative ways if we are to eliminate this care gap, decrease morbidity and minimize expensive "rescue" procedures that make our system increasingly unaffordable.