Canadians are no strangers to waiting especially when it comes to health care. In September 2014, the Canadian Institute for Health Information released a report revealing hospital wait times for the majority of patients to see a doctor at 161 hospitals across the country. Most wait times were around 5.6 hours with a Winnipeg hospital topping the list with the longest wait time of 9.1 hours. The discussion about how long Canadians need to wait to access health care seems to be one of our only gripes about our internationally recognized system. But imagine if you didn’t have to wait.
Growing up surrounded by doctors, David Stanford, a professor in the department of Statistical and Actuarial Sciences at Western University, could see how wait times were impacting patient survivability. It has since been his goal to apply his mathematical skills to heal the healthcare system. He will tell you that the longer you wait, the sicker you get and the sicker you get, the higher the likelihood that when you finally receive treatment, it will not be as effective.
According to Stanford, “Most efforts to improve wait times focus on creating more value for customers with fewer resources to eliminate inefficiencies in specific health care settings. However, to achieve optimum wait times, decision makers need to possess an appreciation of congestion phenomena fundamentals like how randomness affects wait times and how to respond accordingly.”
In collaboration with researchers from Australia and New Zealand, he developed the Accumulating Priority Queue model which takes into account the seriousness of a patient’s the illness and the amount of time that patient has already spent waiting. This model can inform the discussion of wait times and can positively contribute to the policy decisions made by health care leaders to ensure you are waiting less.