Managing surgical waiting lists through dynamic priority scoring

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Prioritising elective surgery patients under the Australian three-category system is inherently subjective due to variability in clinician decision making and the potential for extraneous factors to influence category assignment. As a result, waiting time inequities can exist which may lead to adverse health outcomes and increased morbidity, especially for patients deemed to be low priority. This study investigated the use of a dynamic priority scoring (DPS) system to rank elective surgery patients more equitably, based on a combination of waiting time and clinical factors. Such a system enables patients to progress on the waiting list in a more objective and transparent manner, at a rate relative to their clinical need. Simulation results comparing the two systems indicate that the DPS system has potential to assist in managing waiting lists by standardising waiting times relative to urgency category, in addition to improving waiting time consistency for patients of similar clinical need. In clinical practice, this system is likely to reduce subjectivity, increase transparency, and improve overall efficiency of waiting list management by providing an objective metric to prioritise patients. Such a system is also likely to increase public trust and confidence in the systems used to manage waiting lists.




Powers, J., McGree, J. M., Grieve, D., Aseervatham, R., Ryan, S., & Corry, P. (2023). Managing surgical waiting lists through dynamic priority scoring. Health Care Management Science, 26(3), 533–557.

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