For Pete’s sake get me to the test on time

Some wait for Godot, others for tests.

Wait times for diagnostic tests have been a thorn in the side of the government and patients for some time. By making some relatively small changes in the referral process, the hospital was able to reduce its waiting lists, ensure the test’s accuracy, and significantly speed up referrals back to the referring physician.Text

It’s something a new pilot project in Manitoba may reduce through eliminating diagnostic tests such as CT scans deemed to be “unnecessary” with electronic order entry software.

The software will help physicians choose the most appropriate test by providing them with guidelines for diagnostic imaging at the time the test is ordered.

The Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR), developed the project and shopped it around to all the provinces, but Manitoba was the only one that came onboard, said their CEO Normand Laberge.

The $1 million pilot project – to be rolled out at Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg – is a partnership between Health Canada, CAR, and Manitoba Health, and will be implemented through the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA). “Tim Sale (Manitoba Health Minister) really jumped at the idea.”

Laberge said that in 2004, approximately 35 million diagnostic tests were performed in Canada, and that 3.5 million of those (10 per cent), were unnecessary.

CAR said three categories of “unnecessary” tests are sometimes ordered by physicians: