Canadians lost a combined $1.1 billion, or an average of $1,202 per patient, as a result of lengthy waits for medically necessary health care in 2013.
The number is based on the average value of time lost during the work week for almost a million Canadians waiting for surgery last year.
The Private Cost of Public Queues for Medically Necessary Care study, released today by the Fraser Institute, found that when
researchers include hours outside the work week—evenings and weekends, excluding eight hours of sleep per night—the estimated cost of waiting jumps from $1.1 billion to $3.4 billion, or an average of $3,681 per patient.
“The negative impact of wait times on the productivity of patients and their ability to participate fully in life is an issue too often ignored in the health care debate. Reduced productivity in the workplace, or reduced ability to engage with family and friends, may impact family income and increase stress for Canadian patients,” said Nadeem Esmail, study author and Fraser Institute director of health policy studies.
Since 2009 wait times have increased, along with the cost borne by patients and by the private sector.
Among the provinces, residents of Saskatchewan faced the highest private cost of waiting per patient ($2,022), followed by Manitoba ($1,977) and Nova Scotia ($1,732). Patients in Ontario endured the lowest private cost of waiting ($867), followed by Quebec ($1,079) and British Columbia ($1,191).
“Without sensible health policy reform, waiting will remain a defining characteristic of the Canadian health care experience, and delays, while negatively impacting the health and wellbeing of patients, will also continue to rob patients of valuable time,” Esmail said.
What can HR do to reduce the impact on their organization and employees?
Support to work
Employees who are waiting for surgery may be able to complete some tasks, which is why it's important to work in collaboration with employees and their physician to determine what they are capable of, as opposed to simply giving them time off.
Offering a second opinion service through benefits can give employees more options for diagnosis and treatment, while ensuring that they are aware of the various supports such as EAPs and physical therapies through their benefits can help alleviate some symptoms.
For roles where telework is an option, it gives employees a chance to work from anywhere. Sometimes commuting or sitting at a desk all day isn't an option, but if an employee can put in six hours of productive work at home your organization is only losing two hours a day - which is a much better option than losing the full eight hours.