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WTIO Privacy FAQs

What is the Wait Time Information System?

The Wait Time Information System (WTIS) is a repository of patient information used to track, measure, and report on wait times for patients receiving key surgical and diagnostic procedures. The WTIS is a key component of Ontario’s Wait Time Strategy, which is aimed at providing patients with better access to health care services by reducing wait times.

Why does Cancer Care Ontario, an organization that specializes in cancer, manage the Wait Time Information System, which reports on wait times for procedures unrelated to cancer?

Even though Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) is an organization that deals primarily with cancer care, it was asked by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) to manage the WTIS because of its unique, previous experience working with hospitals using health information systems to monitor and assess cancer services in Ontario. To this end, CCO established the Wait Time Information Office (WTIO) to manage the WTIS.

What type of information does the Wait Time Information Office collect?

The WTIO collects personal health information about patients waiting for specific adult or paediatric services. This information includes the patient’s contact information, health care provider, procedure/diagnostic service, and important dates (e.g. decision to treat date).

How do I know if my personal health information is stored in the Wait Time Information System?

If you are receiving diagnostic or surgical procedures in the following services areas, your personal health information is collected for the WTIS:

  • Cancer surgery;
  • Cardiac revascularization and catheterization;
  • Cataract surgery;
  • Hip and knee joint replacements;
  • MRI and CT scan;
  • Ophthalmology;
  • Orthopaedic; and
  • General surgery.

Your health care provider can also tell you if he or she sends your information to the WTIS.

What does the Wait Time Information Office do with my personal health information?

The WTIO uses the personal health information in the WTIS to publicly report on the status of wait times in Ontario at This information is aggregated (i.e. not identifiable) before it is published on the website. This means, information such as your name, address or health card number is removed so that no one is able to identify the individuals whose data is posted.

The WTIS supports wait list management by enabling the tracking of patients waiting for a specific procedure based on the severity of the patient’s condition (i.e. their prioritization status). Hospital administrators can use this information to determine how many patients are waiting, how long they have been waiting compared to wait times targets, and to monitor demand for operating rooms and diagnostic imaging resources. Physicians and their staff can use this information to help manage their wait lists and guide patient-scheduling decisions.

Who can use the personal health information collected for the Wait Time Information System?

WTIO staff who administer the WTIS have access to your information to ensure data quality and to analyse and report on wait times. Authorized hospital staff (e.g. your clinician) can also access the WTIS in order to check on the status of their patients, enter in their patients’ information or to collect information about wait times at their hospital.

Your information is never used by the WTIO to contact you nor will it ever be sold for any purpose. All contact with you concerning the procedure or service for which you are on a wait list will occur through your clinician and his or her office.

How does the provincial Enterprise Master Patient Index (EMPI) support the WTIS?

The EMPI is the provincial client registry that stores demographic and personal health information (e.g. name, date of birth, medical record number, health card number) used by health care providers to identify you. The WTIS uses the EMPI to identify patients and to provide accurate wait time information for patients with records at multiple hospitals or on multiple wait lists.

Can I prevent my health care provider from sending my personal health information to the Wait Time Information System?

The Ontario Wait Time Strategy requires personal health information in order to accurately monitor, reduce, and report on wait times in the province. As such, Ontario’s privacy legislation permits the WTIO to collect personal health information for the purposes of planning, management, and monitoring of wait times, without patient consent.

How can I get access to and correct my personal health information?

The WTIO does not provide you access to your personal health information in the WTIS; however, the WTIO Privacy Lead will provide you with the contact information of the health care provider(s) who submitted your personal health information to the WTIS so that you may follow up with him or her to access or correct your personal health information.

Contact Us

Wait Times Information Office – Privacy Lead
Phone: 416.971.9800 ext. 3359
505 University Avenue, 17th Floor
Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1X3

Last modified: Thu, Oct 28, 2010
cancer care ontario | action cancer ontario   620 University Avenue Toronto Ontario, Canada M5G 2L7   Phone: 416.971.9800 Fax: 416.971.6888

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