Memo: An Evidence-Based Wait-Time Threshold
In 2001, the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) Committee on the Quality of Health Care in America called for a redesign of the U.S. healthcare delivery system
and appealed to all healthcare constituencies to commit to reducing delays in care. As a result of several VA strategies to reduce wait-times, the average
wait-time for a new primary care VA patient decreased from about 50 to 20 days between 2002 and 2010. However, 10% of VA facilities still had waits of more
than 25 days for new primary care patients. Outside of the VA healthcare system, wait-times for a first primary care appointment are seldom measured.
The VA Evidence-Based Synthesis Program located in Portland, OR reviewed studies of the effects of long wait-times or of wait-time targets in primary care
and primary mental healthcare and report their findings in a brief evidence Memo. Investigators discuss several issues related to wait-times both within
and outside the VA, including international healthcare systems. Topics covered in the Memo include, but are not limited to:
Potential consequences of longer wait-times,
Policies to reduce wait-times,
- Wait-times and outcomes in primary care patients,
Effects of delays in mental health, and
Measures for wait-times.
The full report is available on the Intranet only at http://vaww.hsrd.research.va.gov/publications/esp/wait-time.cfm.
Citation: Peterson K, McCleery E, Helfand M. Memo: An Evidence-based Wait Time Threshold. VA ESP Project #09-199; July 2014.
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