2020-04-06-COVID-19 Causing Massive Elective Surgical Backlog - Novari System Helps Manage the Recovery (1)

To improve capacity to provide care for COVID-19 patients, provincial ministries of health and hospitals across the country have taken the unprecedented emergency action of cancelling most elective surgeries. Doing so has freed up hospital beds normally occupied by elective surgical patients following their surgeries.

Cancelling elective surgeries is a difficult, but prudent, course of action during a pandemic emergency.  Unfortunately, doing so has created and continues to create a massive backlog of patients queuing for necessary procedures and surgeries. Even before the pandemic, patients frequently waited longer than they should for necessary surgery and procedures. In some communities and for certain types of surgeries patients were already waiting for more than a year.

With each passing day pandemic-cancelled elective surgeries are adding to the backlog which some administrators believe will negatively impact wait times for months or even years to come as the system tries to catch up. As has been well documented by reports from the respected Commonwealth Fund, Canada consistently ranks at or near the bottom of the barrel when it comes to surgical wait times when compared to almost every other industrialized country. The pandemic elective surgical backlog is making a bad situation unimaginably worse and setting back provincial initiatives across the country to improve wait times. Many patients will now wait even longer for necessary surgeries and procedures. These long-waiting patients will voice their complaints to surgeons, hospitals, regional health authorities, government, political parties, and the media.


Dr. Chris Simpson“Canada has always struggled with providing timely access to care for “elective” procedures and surgeries, as well as access to specialist consultation. This pandemic now promises to create a further, unprecedented negative impact on wait lists that are already too long. Not only will patients need to endure more suffering and pain as they wait longer for necessary care, but we’re going to see things that were “elective” turn to urgent. Excessive wait times are not just an inconvenience, they mean that suboptimal care is being delivered.”
Dr. Chris Simpson, Former Chief Medical Information Officer, Novari Health


For the next few years, and like never before, surgeons, hospitals and provincial health authorities will need to triage and prioritize patients, optimize the allocation of operating theatre time and manage huge wait lists with unprecedented efficiency.

Many hospitals and health authorities already use Canada’s own Novari ATC surgical wait list management solution, and therefore, have the technology in place to help manage this crisis. The Novari ATC software system helps manage patient wait lists at the physician, department, hospital, regional, and provincial levels. The software is used to ensure that every patient is tracked, scheduled, and safely prepared for surgery. It reduces last-minute surgery cancellations, thereby increasing the number of surgeries performed. Novari ATC maximizes the throughput of patients through the operating room, improving the utilization of every minute of available surgical time.

Many other hospitals and health authorities without the Novari ATC system will be disadvantaged and will have to use paper, fax, manual processes, and older technology that was never designed to manage wait lists of these magnitudes.

Epidemiologists and infectious disease experts caution Canadians to expect surges and flare ups of COVID-19 cases moving forward, meaning surgical cancellations might continue sporadically for some time to come – compounding the problem.

Surgeons, hospitals, and health authorities using the Novari ATC system have the ability and option to respond to the massive pandemic backlog by pooling patients and/or surgeons to manage cases collaboratively and fairly.  This option is often not feasible or possible without Novari ATC.

The Novari ATC solution can be implemented quickly at individual hospitals or across regional health authorities as they prepare to manage the backlog.  Rapid deployment is made possible as the Novari ATC system is provided as Software as a Service and is hosted exclusively in Microsoft Azure Canadian data centres. Novari ATC complements and integrates to existing hospital surgical scheduling systems (e.g. Cerner, Picis, Meditech, SIS, etc.).

Novari Health has been called upon by hospitals and ministries of health to help during the pandemic.  Our Novari eVisit virtual care technology is being used to allow patients to virtually see their primary care physician as well as see physicians from hospital, COVID-19 assessment centre, and provincial virtual “waiting rooms”.  The Novari ATC surgical wait list management system has been leveraged by surgeons, hospitals, and regional health authorities to manage the overnight cancellations of elective surgeries.  When elective surgeries resume, Novari ATC will be used to manage the backlog and provide needed care to many thousands of Canadians.


About Novari Health
Novari Health designs, builds, and implements award-winning cloud-based, enterprise scale software solutions that improve access to care, coordination of care, and the delivery of healthcare services. The Novari Access to Care software platform includes virtual care, eReferral, central intake, workflow management, surgical waitlist management, and medical imaging requisition management modules. Based in beautiful Kingston, Ontario, Novari has become one of the largest Canadian based digital health solution providers. With offices in Kingston, Toronto, Vancouver, Boston, and Sydney, Australia, the Novari team is comprised of physicians, nurses, former hospital administrators, software architects, software developers, project managers, certified professionals in Health Information and Management Systems, and client support. Novari Health is a Microsoft Partner, with software solutions hosted on the Microsoft Azure Canadian and Australian cloud data centres, for security and scalability. Novari Health has been independently assessed by BSI against internationally recognized standards showing our commitment to quality and assurance and is ISO 27001 Information Security Management System certified.