Law & Governance

Law & Governance 11(1) July 2006 : 8-24
Invited Essay

Developing a Culture to Sustain Ontario's Wait Time Strategy

Joann Trypuc, Hugh MacLeod and Alan Hudson

Abstract

[This article was originally published in HealthcarePapers, Volume 7, Number 1.]

Ontario's Wait Time Strategy - a significant change management initiative - is designed to improve access to healthcare services in the public system by reducing the time that adult Ontarians wait for services in five areas by December 2006 (cancer surgery, cardiac revascularization procedures, cataract surgery, hip and knee total joint replacements, and MRI and CT scans). These five are just the beginning of an ongoing process to improve access to, and reduce wait times for, a broad range of healthcare services beyond 2006.

Change management initiatives are initially successful because of the significant time, attention and resources that are dedicated to the start-up effort. Many initiatives lose their momentum and impact and ultimately fail in the long run since it is difficult to sustain this level of intensity. The probability of success increases if a culture is developed to sustain the initiative into the future. A pivotal element for this sustained culture is accountability for achieving results. If Ontario is to reduce waits for quality healthcare services over the long term, it must shift from a paradigm where no one - or only a few - are accountable for achieving a particular set of results to one where a wide range of players is accountable for achieving a broad range of results. This includes explicit accountabilities of the public, healthcare providers (including physicians, other healthcare providers, professional associations and regulatory bodies), government and Local Health Integration Networks. Tools required to support these accountabilities include developing leaders, aligning incentives to reinforce what needs to be achieved, and developing information systems to provide the data needed to make decisions, and manage and improve performance.

 

Let us not waste our time in idle discourse.
Let us do something, while we have the chance.

- Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

 

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