Wait times for surgeries are a major barrier to health care and can have lasting impacts on patients including increased anxiety and pain, and worsened health status and recovery time. In Manitoba, Canada the health care system faces particularly high wait times for orthopedic and ophthalmological surgeries and investigations.

In a new study exploring the delivery of orthopedic and ophthalmological procedures in Manitoba between 2020 and 2024, a team of researchers from the University of Manitoba, Canada developed forecast models using whole population linked administrative data to predict future demand up to 2027. The study not only found a significant increase in demand for both types of procedures, but also forecast that there will be a 17.7% rise in orthopedic surgeries and a 27.7% increase in ophthalmology surgeries between 2020 and 2027.

The research also highlighted the importance of considering more than one data source in the research approach. Initially, procedure codes from hospital discharge abstracts were used to develop the models, but these only identified in-hospital surgical procedures. Many procedures are being performed in facilities outside of hospitals, which do not submit a hospital discharge abstract. For this reason, data from medical claims were added which provided physician billings. Using both hospital-based procedure codes and physician billing codes from community practice ensured all procedures were included to more accurately predict future population demands.

Dr. Alan Katz states, “Forecast modelling is an important tool for healthcare managers to better prepare and plan for future resource allocation. This study also provides an important resource for researchers as the study approach highlights both the strengths and limitations of using administrative data to develop forecast models.


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Dr. Alan Katz, Senior Research Scientist, Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, Dept of Community Health Sciences, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba & Department of Family Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

Katz, A., Owczar, H., Taylor, C., Ekuma, O., Bowes, J.-M. and Soodeen, R.-A. (2023) “Orthopedic and ophthalmology surgical service projection modelling in Manitoba: Research approach for a data linkage study”, International Journal of Population Data Science, 8(1). doi: 10.23889/ijpds.v8i1.2123.