Orthopedic Wait Times in Canada 2020

In our previous blog we talked about 2020 medical wait times in Canada. In this blog, we will look in more details at one of the 12 specialities examined by Fraser Institute – Orthopaedics.

Across Canada, for orthopaedics, the total wait time in 2020 was 34.1 weeks. This is a decrease of 5 weeks, compared to 2019 when the wait was 39.1 weeks. Chart 1 shows Orthopedic surgery wait times 10 years back and also includes 1993 when it was 19.5 weeks.

The report further breaks down wait times into two different segments. Segment 1 is the wait time from referral by a general practitioner to consultation with a specialist. Segment 2 is the wait time from the consultation with a specialist to point at which a patient receives treatment.

The wait time from GP to a specialist was 13.2, again, less than in 2019 when it was 14.6. The wait time from specialist to treatment was 20.9 weeks down from 24.5 weeks in 2019. Although it is one of the longest wait time for the 12 specialities surveyed in 2020 (shared by Plastic Surgery and Ophthalmology), it is definitely an improvement over the last year.

As far as which province fares the best, the report lists ON, where the median patient wait to see a specialist after referral from GP takes 8 weeks, and median wait to get treatment after the appointment with a specialist is 18.2 weeks. In other words, the median time to get an orthopaedic surgery in Ontario is 26.2 weeks. The province of Saskatchewan came very close, it takes longer to see a specialist (median 20 weeks), but faster to get surgery (6.3 weeks) a total of 26.3 weeks.

The longest wait time was in NS – a total of 57.6 weeks from referral by GP to surgery. Please refer to Chart 2 for the rest of the Canadian provinces numbers.

If you are unwilling to wait and would like to explore your private options, we are here to connect you to a reputable medical facility in the US or Canada. Give us a call to find out your options – toll-free 877 344 3544

Chart 1

Chart 2

How Long Can You Wait?

2020 has not been kind to many of us. Canadians endured lockdowns and shutdowns, social isolation and other unpleasant life adjustments due to COVID-19. They also endured longer medical wait times as many experienced cancellations of their scheduled elective surgeries.

According to the new report issued by Fraser Institute on December 10, 2020, it is estimated that “the total number of procedures for which people are waiting in 2020 is 1,224,198, an increase of 15% from the estimated 1,064,286 procedures in 2019.” That means that 3.2% of Canadians were waiting for their elective medically necessary treatment last year. Each province has a different percentage of their population waiting – Quebec has the lowest – 1.97% of the population and Nova Scotia is much higher – at 9.97%. Only the province of Manitoba did better – their number of people waiting for medical procedures decreased.

The total waiting time between referral from a general practitioner and delivery of medically necessary elective treatment by a specialist averaged across all 12 specialities and 10 provinces surveyed, has risen from 20.9 weeks in 2019 to 22.6 in 2020. This is the longest wait time on record. It is 143% longer than in 1993 when it was just 9.3 weeks.

Each province fared differently in medical wait times, as medical care is in the hands of provincial governments. Province of Ontario seems to have the shortest wait times overall, from GP referral to delivery of medically necessary elective treatment it takes 17.4 weeks. The Maritime provinces had more than double wait of ON – PEI at 46.5 weeks, NS at 43.8 weeks and NB at 41.3 weeks.

Each of the 12 specialities had different wait times. Plastic surgery (34.1 weeks), Ophthalmology (34.1 weeks), Neurosurgery (33.2 weeks) and Orthopedics (34.1 weeks) had the longest waits. The largest increases in waits between 2019 and 2020 occurred for neurosurgery (+7.7 weeks), ophthalmological surgery (+5.7 weeks), and plastic surgery (+5.4 weeks). There were also decreases. Wait times for patients receiving treatment in fields like orthopaedics (−5.0 weeks), and medical oncology (−0.1 week).

In our next blog, we will look at wait times in orthopaedics in more detail. If you are unwilling to wait for your surgery and are able to travel outside of your province, we can help connect you with a private facility in the US or Canada. Please note that only a few private options are available in Canada. Give us a call to find out more details. Toll-free 877 344 3544.

Are There Private Surgery Facilities in Canada?

If you have been told you need to have a surgery, the most common reaction is to have it done asap.  In Canada, most people have already been waiting quite a long time to know that they will need to have surgery.  Being told there is a long wait is not anything one likes to hear.

Will this ever change?  It is anyone’s guess.  New Conservative leader Erin O’Toole has indicated he would allow patients more choice when it comes to private options.  This of course is quite a ways down the road.  With COVID added to the delays, it really presents additional challenges. 

Where Are The Private Facilities?

As of now, private facilities are very limited in Canada.  For instance, there are no known private surgical facilities within the Maritimes.  In all other provinces, there are a handful of private facilities, however, they are limited on what kind of surgery they can do.  For example, there are only a couple facilities that can do a knee and/or hip replacement.  None of the private facilities can accommodate over night stays.  The surgery would need to be on an outpatient basis, otherwise, you will have to wait and go through the system.  Not everyone is a candidate for an outpatient surgery so an evaluation needs to be done.

What Are The Rules For Going To A Private Facility?

Back in September of this year, British Columbia determined private facilities could no longer perform private surgery if you are a resident of BC.  This prompted closures and services offered to BC residents on a private basis to no longer exist.  They do, however, allow someone from another province to be treated at their facilities in a private manner.  In Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta, the same rule applies.  The facility is not able to provide private services to residents within that province.  This is only for those procedures already covered by their provincial insurance. Things like dentistry and cosmetic surgery would not apply.  The only province we are aware of that can take residents within their own province is Quebec.  

This presents a challenge because it requires travel.  Not everyone is willing to and in COVID times, it can be tricky with constantly changing rules and gray areas.  If you’d like to know what your options are within Canada, please give us a call and we can help assist in finding a facility that can meet your needs.

There are also other private facilities for MRI and CT Scans  For more information on those, see our other blog post here.

Health Vantis

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

www.healthvantis.ca

Tips for Holiday Parties During COVID

Tips for Holiday Parties During COVID Times

The holidays this year are going to be different, but they don’t have to be cancelled and can still be special as long as appropriate measures are taken.  Most people have the current guidelines down on wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart, however, here are some additional tips to help keep your guests safe and prevent the spread of COVID this year.  (*Note – Always adhere to your provinces’ current guidelines and allowances on groups and gatherings) :

  

  • Clorox or sanitize all surfaces prior to guests arriving, especially ones that will be high touch areas.
  • If you are the host, provide hand sanitizer easily accessible upon entry to your home and near the food table.
  • Try to avoid ‘pot lucks’ where everyone brings something for all to share.
  • Offer to provide all of the food and take extra precautions when preparing it to avoid contamination. Or, request that your guests bring their own food and drinks to partake in.  
  • The kitchen is the place to be at a party.  While this is the most common place people love to gather nowadays, encourage a new location for socializing away from the food and drinks.
  • Prior to partaking in the holiday food, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before you take or eat any of the food.
  • Provide and encourage single use utensils for the guests to fill their plates with as opposed to a serving utensil that all people will be using.  Or, designate one person to serve all portions of food.
  • Provide a touchless garbage can if available.  
  • Provide clorox wipes in the guest bathroom to encourage guests to wipe high touch areas after their use.  Take the community towel out of the bathroom and provide single use towels for guests to dry their hands on after washing.
  • Provide glass ware that can be written on and have the guest put their name on it so drinks are not confused if they get set down.  
  • Provide a spot in a less crowded area for your elderly guests to mingle and a comfortable seat that allows for social distancing.

Most of all, focus on the joy of being with your loved ones.   It has been a long year and we want to go into 2021 on a healthy note.  Being mindful of others and taking the guidelines seriously will help with that!

Health Vantis

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

www.healthvantis.ca

Are There Private Options for MRI or CT Scan in Canada?

Are There Private Options for MRI or CT Scan in Canada?

MRI and CT Scan’s are very common types of diagnostic tests that can aide in the diagnosis of several medical conditions.  They are also included in the list for long wait times to actually get one done.  This not only prolongs your diagnosis, it can also prolong your treatment. Exactly what are your options should you decide you cannot wait for your MRI or CT Scan?  The answer is simple.  You have to pay out of pocket to fast track them at a private clinic.  

Where To Find A Private Clinic?

Finding a private clinic can be tricky throughout Canada.  Not all provinces allow private clinics to exist.  Ontario flat out bans it.  While it is not banned in Manitoba, PEI and Newfoundland, there are currently no private clinics available in any of those provinces.  As of now, the only provinces that offer a private clinic are B.C., Saskatchewan, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

What Are Your Options?

Your only option if you want to have a private MRI or CT Scan and it is not available within your province is to travel.  In the past, people would travel to their neighboring province to obtain one or go right across the border.  In today’s climate of COVID-19, this has made things more complicated.  You would need to comply with any current rules that the state or province you are traveling to has set as well as your provinces rules when you return.  This might not always be an option if both places require a 14 day quarantine.

What Do I Need?

All facilities are going to need a referral from your treating physician.  

What Does It Cost?

The cost varies depending on what type of MRI or CT Scan you need.  Ones that require contrast tend to run higher.  To get an accurate price, the facility would need to see the referral form to know what area is being scanned and whether or not contrast is needed.

Is It Worth Getting Done Privately?

Only you can know that answer.  Some people are comfortable waiting 3-12 months to get a diagnosis while others cannot wait.  The benefit to getting it done privately allows you to have answers in approximately 1-2 weeks.  It also gets you fast tracked into the specialist.  You cannot get in the queue for the specialist until after your scans have been completed.  If you get it privately, you save time by eliminating the wait list to have it completed.

If you are looking to find a private MRI or CT Scan clinic, give us a call and we can help assist you in finding a location nearest to your location.

Health Vantis

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

www.healthvantis.ca

Snowbird Surgery

Snowbird Surgery

It is the time of the year that ‘Snowbirds’ start making their plans to travel south for the winter.   Most true Snowbirds own a second home/vacation home in the US.  Unfortunately, traveling for leisure is completely different this year in light of the COVID pandemic.  As of now, travel for leisure, even if you own a home in the US, is deemed non-essential. It is, however, considered essential if you are traveling for medical reasons. If you’ve considered having a surgery done privately, your winter trip can happen.  There will be many state and provincial regulations you have to abide by, however, it just may be the way to still get some of the sunshine you’ve been craving AND get you in a better, healthier place.

Benefits Snowbirds can still have if they schedule a private surgery:

  • You can recover in the comfort of your own home that you own in the US.
  • Most people who travel for surgery will stay an average of 5-7 days and then return to Canada.  Being local and having the ability to stay longer and do your follow ups in person is more optimal.
  • There is less risk to you for complications since you do not need to fly home right away.  Flying during COVID is more challenging with more hoops to jump through.  If you combine your surgery with an already planned trip to stay for a couple of months, that risk element is removed.  When the time comes for you to go back to Canada, you will likely be in a healthier place with more energy and the ability to do so easier.
  • By coming to the US, you may have access to treatment for procedures or surgeries that are not available in Canada.  There are many things unavailable to Canadians that are available in the US.  This would be an optimal time to explore alternative options.
  • There is convenience of already being in the area so you avoid an additional trip and expense.  If you combine your south of the border winter trip with a surgery, you will save money by not making a separate trip to do so.

Contact Health Vantis to connect you to an already vetted, safe and affordable facility in the area you are traveling.  We take the guess work out of finding the appropriate surgeon for your needs.

Health Vantis

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

www.healthvantis.ca

Private Urology Surgery

Urological surgeries usually involve urinary organs in females and the urinary tract and reproductive organs in males. Common urological procedures include kidney and ureter surgeries, removal of the prostate, bladder surgery, testicular surgery or surgery to the penis.

Conditions treated by urologic surgery include neurogenic sources like spinal cord injury; injuries to the pelvic organs; chronic digestive and urinary diseases; as well as prostate infections and inflammations. Common surgery names can be found on our Urology page.

Wait times to see a urologist in Canada vary depending in the province, specialist and the procedure to be done. If you feel that your wat time is too long and would like to explore your private options, give us a call at toll-free 877 344 3544 to talk about your private options.

Recovery after Private Laparoscopic GYN Surgery

GYN surgeries done laparoscopically are usually day surgeries, and you are discharged the same day. Laparoscopic means that it is done with a help of a tiny laparoscope, or camera, and require minimal tissue cutting, usually just a few small incisions instead of a single larger one. The benefits of laparoscopic surgery are less pain, less scarring and faster recovery.

How fast should you expect to recover and return to your normal daily activities after a laparoscopic GYN surgery? The answer varies a little bit, depending on your overall health and the type of surgery you had. However, don’t be expecting to just wake up and go the next day or even next week. It usually takes about 6 weeks to start feeling more normal. Lifting heavy items, or doing any intense activities is not recommended during this time.

If you are able to take 2 weeks off work, and arrange for someone to help you around home, it will be a great start. Do walk around as walking is a great light exercise that will help your body heal. If you feel tired, take a rest. Remembering that any surgery is a bit of a shock to your body, allows for a realistic expectation post surgery.

Before your discharge you will be given instruction on how to care for your incisions and for yourself in the next few days. If you have any questions, discuss with your doctor or nurse.

Recovery After Private Knee or Hip Replacement

If you are going for joint replacement surgery, one of the things that could be on your mind is your recovery time. Knowing how long it will take is helpful to set the right expectations about your mobility and activity levels. Unfortunately, there is not an exact answer to this.

In general, a complete recovery for a knee replacement is 3-12 months and for a hip replacement is 2-6 months.  Complete recovery means that the surgical wounds and soft tissue are healed, you feel well enough to return to your activities, and your joint’s functions and range of motion are considerably improved. As you can see the range of time is quite wide.

Speedy recovery depends on many things. One of the more important ones is your overall health going into surgery. Another one is the level of your physical fitness prior to surgery. When arthritis attacks, our mobility is decreased, and therefore we use fewer muscles and they deteriorate.

Your overall health and your level of fitness can both be improved prior to surgery. Losing excess weight, quitting smoking, and eating a well-balanced and healthy diet are within our control. After meeting with your doctor, discuss what you can do to be better prepared.

Pre-hab is widely recommended nowadays for people who will be undergoing joint replacement surgery. It is an exercise program, with a physiotherapist, that you would do before the surgery to get your muscles in a better shape, thus allowing a faster recovery. Many physiotherapists offer it.

Joint replacement is one of the safest surgeries. Recovery from it requires commitment and realistic expectations on your side. There is always someone who could say they were back to playing golf 5 weeks after surgery, but everyone is different. Discuss the recovery with your doctor and be prepared to work hard at helping your body heal after.

 

Flu Shot 2020

With flu season approaching us, now it is more important than ever to consider getting a flu vaccine. With COVID-19 resurgence in Canada in the fall, both flu and COVID-19 will be circulating around in winter.

Some people choose not to get the flu vaccine because they think it doesn’t offer much, as each year the virus differs and the vaccine is just an educated guess of what happened during the flu season the year before. Even though it is not perfect, it does offer protection for those viruses included in the vaccine. And if you do happen to get sick with the flu, your symptoms can be milder if you got the vaccination.

You are also protecting your family members and our vulnerable population. People over 65 and those who have special medical conditions make them more susceptible to viruses. Flu vaccination is our best shot at protecting the herd.

Flu and COVID-19 symptoms are very similar. By preventing the flu, you also prevent additional testing and possibly hospitalizations. It means that our healthcare will have less of a burden to carry during the winter flu season and will be able to focus on COVID-19, as there is no vaccine yet.

Do your part and get a flu vaccine, this year and going forward.