International comparison of wait times and quality of care: A pilot study
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During the healthcare reform debate in the United States in 2009/2010, many health policy experts expressed a concern that expanding coverage would increase waiting times for patients to obtain care. Many complained that delays in obtaining care in turn would compromise the quality of healthcare in the United States. Using data from The Commonwealth Fund 2010 International Health Policy Survey in Eleven Countries, this study explored the relationship between wait times and quality of care, employing a wait time scale and several quality of care indicators present in the dataset. The impact of wait times on quality was assessed. Increased wait time was expected to reduce quality of care. However, this study found that wait times correlated with better health outcomes for some measures, and had no association with others. Since this is a pilot study and statistical significance was not achieved for any of the correlations, further research is needed to confirm and deepen the findings. However, if future studies confirm this finding, an emphasis on reducing wait times at the expense of other health system level performance variables may be inappropriate.
Health care management
0769: Health care management