Frequently Asked Questions


How do I search for wait time trends?

  1. Begin by selecting the procedure that you want to view.
    • In the "Select a Procedure" section, mouse over the circles on the body. This will show a list of procedures offered. Mouse over the procedure to see a brief description.
    • Click on the desired procedure name to make your selection.

            Note: People who need emergency surgery or treatment receive it without delay. They are not entered or included in the wait time trends.

  2. After you select a procedure, the zone map in the "Select a Service Area" section will show boxes if a zone in the province provides that service. Only facilities providing the procedure in that zone will be listed.
    • Move the mouse over the zone box on the map to view the facilities providing the procedure.
    • Select "All facilities in zone combined" to view all the facilities or to select individual facilities. When one facility is selected the "All facilities in zone combined" is automatically selected.
    • If you select no data from the map, you will receive a provincial total for 90% served (includes all facilities in all zones).

  3. You can select the urgency level you want to see by clicking in the circle. The urgency level will be greyed out if the facility you selected does not provide that level of urgency.


  4. Select the type of wait time trend you would like to see. 90% Served is the default and will always be returned.


  5. Note: 90% Served will be shown at the provincial level (all health zones and facilities for all urgency levels combined) if no selection after the procedure is made.

  6. Click the search button to generate the results.


  7. A list of data tables are generated showing 13 months of data for your selection criteria.


  8. A list of facilities and specialists providing that service is displayed. This may vary depending on the procedure you selected.


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What is a wait list?

Wait lists are maintained by health facilities and individual physicians to keep track of people who are waiting for medical care such as surgery or diagnostic tests.

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How is a wait time measured?

A wait time is the time between the decision date (when a patient and specialist decide that a service is required) and the date the procedure or test is performed.

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Who goes on a wait list?

People who need non-emergency surgery or diagnostic imaging are entered on wait lists. People who need emergency surgery or treatment receive it without delay. They are not entered on a wait list.

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What influences wait time?

Wait times vary from one procedure to another, one specialist to another, and one facility to another. You should talk to your physician to understand why wait times differ among surgeons. The wait list may be affected by a number of things such as:

  • How busy surgeons are in your community;
  • Newer surgeons might have shorter waiting lists while they build their practice;
  • Some specialists only perform certain procedures or work part-time; and
  • Some procedures require specialized staff and facilities.

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Where does the information on Alberta Wait Times Reporting come from?

Information on the Alberta Wait Times Reporting website is compiled by the Ministry of Health from data submitted by the province's urban and rural hospitals and diagnostic clinics.

These facilities collect information from physicians and other health-care providers who perform the procedures included on this website.

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How is data accuracy determined?

The accepted standard for accuracy requires that at least three months of wait time information be used when calculating how long 90 per cent of people have to wait for a particular procedure at a specified facility.

Each facility uses the same reporting process to ensure information is consistent across the province.

The wait time information submitted by hospitals comes directly from physicians.

Physicians are responsible for ensuring the information they provide is accurate.

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Where can pediatric and adult wait times be viewed?

The breakdown for pediatric and adult wait times can be found in the Procedure Overview Page, the Procedure Details Page, the Facility Details Page and the Specialist Details Page.

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What are the age breakdowns for pediatric and adult wait times?

'Pediatric' is categorized as any individual from birth to, and including, 17 years of age.

An adult is any individual aged 18 and older.

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What are the definitions used in the wait time trends?

The 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentile wait times are wait times (in weeks) within which 25 per cent, 50 per cent, 75 per cent and 90 per cent of patients had their procedure or test performed. The calculation uses data from people served in the three months prior to the report date. It excludes people who voluntarily delayed their procedure or test, had a scheduled followup, or those who received emergency care.

The Average (Mean) is the average wait time (in weeks) before patients received service. It includes data from people served in the three months prior to the report date. It excludes people who voluntarily delayed their procedure or test, had a scheduled followup or who received emergency care.

Procedures Completed means the number of people who have received a procedure within a given month. It includes people who voluntarily delayed their procedure or test and those who had a scheduled followup procedure.

Urgency definitions for each procedure are in development. Urgency 1 is for more urgent conditions, Urgency II is for less urgent conditions, and Urgency III is for elective conditions.

Facility is the facility where the procedure was provided.

Specialist is the physician who performed the procedure. The term specialist is interchangeable with physician or service provider.

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What is an oncologist?

An oncologist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

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What is a general practitioner?

A general practitioner or GP is a medical practitioner who provides primary care. A general practitioner treats acute and chronic illnesses and provides preventive care and health education for all ages and both sexes.

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What is a specialist?

A specialist is a medical practitioner who specializes in the practice of one branch of medicine, e.g. anesthesiologist, pediatrician, cardiologist, dermatologist, etc.

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What qualifies as an emergency?

An emergency is when someone has a life-threatening condition or requires immediate assessment and treatment. People waiting on a wait list for an intervention may become an emergency, however people who need emergency surgery or treatment receive it without delay and are not entered on a wait list.

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What is an intervention?

An intervention is a service performed or needing to be performed to improve your health, to alter the course of treatment, to diagnose a health condition, or to promote wellness.

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What is a scheduled followup?

A scheduled followup indicates the intervention is for a followup session to continue or complete an initial session, or is the next in a series of services. An example may be cataract surgery where the wait time to have the next session is clinically determined from the prior session.

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What is a procedure?

A procedure is a grouping of related medical interventions or services for reporting purposes.

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What is considered a voluntary delay?

A voluntary delay occurs when a patient does not accept the next available date for the intervention or has voluntarily postponed their scheduled intervention.

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Within what browsers does the Alberta Wait Times Reporting website run?

The Alberta Wait Times Reporting website runs on the following browsers:

  • IE 7.0
  • Firefox 3.6
  • Safari 5.0

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Where do I go if I have questions about wait times or this website?

For information about the data collection process or government policy with respect to wait lists, please click on this link: http://www.health.alberta.ca/contact.html.

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