Wait times for elective surgeries in Canada are notoriously long, but a study released Tuesday found times dropped significantly in the Saskatchewan province after private, for-profit clinics were introduced to the area.
Increasing capacity through private clinics was a pivotal component in dropping average Saskatchewan wait times from 26.4 weeks in 2010 to 13.6 weeks in 2015, the lowest in Canada, according to the report released by the Frasier Institute, a nonpartisan, Canada-based think tank.
The organization said that selling the idea of integrating privatized health care to Canadian citizens was a challenge, but the feedback has been largely positive. It was critical the Saskatchewan government was diligent when choosing the companies that would run the clinics, the report states.
“For some time, wait times had been the major health-care concern of citizens and, if private clinics could help to reduce wait times, then, people were willing to set aside their ideology, ignore the warnings of health interest groups, and give the clinics a chance,” the report reads. “The ‘consistently high patient satisfaction ratings’ for the clinics were cited by the government as evidence that they had been ’embraced by patients.”
The companies chosen for the private clinics were required to sign contracts with the health regions providing specifics on the number of procedures performed, the costs and time frame. They were also required to meet the same standards as hospitals.
In addition to shortening wait times, the study found it also saved the government money by cutting costs.
“In 2012, Saskatchewan Health compared the cost of performing the 34 procedures in private clinics and in hospitals,” the Frasier Institute said. “The results showed that in all cases the clinics were less expensive, in some cases, half the cost. Overall, the total cost of performing the 34 procedures in the clinics was 26 percent less than the cost would have been had the procedures been performed in the hospital ”
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