Coaching has traditionally been associated with sports, where coaches help teams and individuals focus on improving their athletic performance and achieving top results. Coaches do not play the game; rather, they stand on the side and provide advice and guidance to those who are playing. Increasingly, organizations are recognizing the value of coaching to develop and train leaders, managers and employees to become top performers.

Ontario's Wait Times Strategy - which was launched in November 2004 - adopted the concept of coaching to help hospitals improve access to services and reduce wait times. (For additional information on Ontario's Wait Times Strategy, see Trypuc et al. [2006a, 2006b, 2006c, 2007].) In addition to investing over $600 million to pay for more wait times procedures, Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care recognized that top functioning systems and processes of care are needed to make the most efficient and effective use of these funds and to avoid cancelled and delayed surgeries. Consequently, the ministry supported the creation of coaching teams to improve peri-operative processes and, more recently, critical care services.

This article examines the strategy's peri-operative coaching team initiative that began in September 2005. (The critical care coaching team initiative began a year later in September 2006.) Peri-operative coaching focuses on performance and top results in the peri-operative stage, which includes three phases:

  • Preoperative: diagnostics, routine testing, patient education, preparation for surgery and preparation for discharge from the operating room and hospital
  • Operative: the surgical day
  • Immediate post-operative: the recovery room and post-anesthetic care unit