To reduce surgery wait times the provincial government is seeking independent providers to provide more publicly-funded surgeries.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) posted an expression of interest Friday. This move is part of the Alberta Surgical Wait-Times Initiative to provide 80,000 more surgeries in hospitals and independent clinics over the next three years.
“We’re eager to hear from independent providers who want to help us improve access,” said Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health.
“They already perform thousands of surgeries for Albertans, providing safe care that’s convenient for patients and reduces costs. We’re going to make the best use of hospitals and independent providers to give every patient the right care in the right setting, and give Albertans the best access to surgery in Canada.”
Last year, 42 of 80 independent providers (also known as non-hospital surgical facilities) in the province provided about 40,000 publicly funded surgeries under contract with AHS at no cost to patients. The province and AHS want to hear from existing independent providers, as well as new ventures, to see if they have capacity to perform more procedures starting as early as fall 2020.
“Developed collaboratively, the Alberta Surgical Wait-Times Initiative reflects the input of patient advisors, operational leaders, physicians, surgical teams and quality improvement programs,” said Dr. Francois Belanger, vice-president, quality and chief medical officer, Alberta Health Services.
“This initiative is a complex endeavour and requires collaboration across the whole health system. As part of that collaboration, we’re working with non-hospital surgical facilities to increase capacity, which will be a critical part of this initiative.”
AHS is also exploring if independent clinics could provide surgeries that are currently performed exclusively in hospitals, such as hip and knee replacements. Right now, non-hospital surgical facilities perform low-risk day surgeries. As independent clinics take on a wider range of surgeries, they will free up capacity in hospitals for emergency surgeries and more complex procedures.
Respondents have until Feb. 28 to submit their expressions of interest.
Later this spring, a request for proposals will move forward with formal applications from interested respondents.
Currently, about 293,000 surgeries are completed in Alberta each year. Hospitals provide about 260,000 of these surgeries, or about 85 per cent, with non-hospital surgical facilities performing the remaining 15 per cent. All non-hospital surgical facilities must be accredited by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta and follow safety and quality standards.
-Sasin Tipchai photo
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