Patient Solutions

Have you been referred for a surgical or diagnostic procedure? New patient portals are now open — expanding care options for Manitobans.

Learn more and self-refer here

The Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force is finding innovative solutions to address backlogs in health care resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, by building capacity in Manitoba, through request for supply arrangements (RFSA) with private and public care providers in Manitoba, and by implementing safe, out-of-province care options for some procedures.

Combined with strategic investments in staffing and health care infrastructure, these measures will continue to ensure that Manitobans have timely access to the care they need.

Diagnostic Services

Diagnostic Sleep Testing & Treatment Planning
Manitobans in need of a diagnostic sleep study may be eligible to have sleep testing and treatment planning done in-home, at no cost. Diagnostic sleep tests record brain waves, heartbeats, breathing and other information used to diagnose sleep disorders.

These in-home tests are currently being offered in partnership with Winnipeg-based Cerebra Medical Ltd. and are conducted and assessed by licensed physicians who specialize in sleep disorder diagnosis and treatment.

Additionally, an investment in the Sleep Disorder Centre (SDC) at Misericordia Hospital in Winnipeg, approved in late May 2023, will expand the SDC team and add equipment to build capacity, reduce sleep study backlogs and create long-term system resilience.

Manitobans who receive their sleep study and treatment planning from the SDC or from Cerebra Medical can qualify for the provincial CPAP program at no additional cost if therapy is required.

At-home sleep tests are suitable for most people. The task force's patient navigation team will work with patients to ensure it is appropriate for their situation. The patient navigation team will review information and connect with patients within two weeks.

The first step is to review the eligibility criteria below. Patients who meet all criteria and would like to complete their sleep test at home can contact the patient navigation team:

Colon Cancer Screening
Throughout the pandemic response, the health care system adapted to ensure people continued to have timely access to cancer diagnosis and treatment without delay. In Manitoba, the volume of cancer services being provided, including diagnostics, care planning and treatment, are at or above pre-pandemic levels.

The Manitoba government announced a shift to Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) screening as the initial diagnostic tool used for some patients at lower risk for colorectal cancer, rather than a colonoscopy. FIT screening is less invasive, provides accurate results and helps to reduce the need for colonoscopies and other demands on operating room space.

This approach has helped to reduce the number of follow-up colonoscopies required by Manitoba patients by over 1,200 in 2022/23 and will continue to reduce the number of follow-up colonoscopies by at least 1,000 annually. As of April 30, 2023 FIT screening has now been implemented in all five regional health authorities, diverting more than 1,581cases from the waitlist, and resulting in an estimated cost saving of more than $1.3 million.

Virtual Consultations with Specialists
The Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force is working to expand the availability of the Building Access to Specialist Expertise (BASE™) eConsult service, which enables primary care providers to consult with specialists virtually and without a patient care referral. The BASE™ eConsult service is currently used by 365 primary care providers, who are able to access the expertise of 78 specialists covering 59 specialties. The average response time is currently three days, and participating specialists are asked to complete eConsults within seven days.

The use of eConsult avoids unnecessary referrals to surgical and medical specialists that would otherwise have added to wait lists and larger pandemic backlogs. The Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force is working to enrol an additional 800 primary care providers over the next three years to increase access to specialists and reduce the pandemic backlog.

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Surgical Services

In Province General Surgery – Gall Bladder and Hernia
Manitoba has agreements in place for gall bladder and hernia surgery performed by the regional health authorities outside Winnipeg on a short-term basis from July to September 2023 - offering expanded options to patients, who may have had surgeries delayed due to summer slowdowns.

All patients are screened and must meet all eligibility criteria, including being on a surgical waitlist and having seen a Manitoba surgeon. If you are currently on a waitlist for surgery, you can discuss travelling in-province with your family doctor or surgeon.

Patients who are willing to travel within Manitoba for surgery and who meet the eligibility criteria can self-refer –

In-Province Joint Replacement Services
Manitoba has agreements in place to increase in-province surgical capacity for hip and knee replacements and other orthopedic surgeries, providing more Manitobans a better quality of life and increased mobility as facilities implement same-day surgeries.

Last year, more than 6,000 procedures were completed in Manitoba with nearly 600 funded through the task force including hip and knee replacement surgeries at the following health-care facilities:

  • Boundary Trails Health Centre in Morden-Winkler;
  • Brandon General Hospital in Brandon;
  • Concordia Hospital in Winnipeg;
  • Grace Hospital in Winnipeg;
  • Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg.

Out-of-Province Medical Referrals
Agreements with out-of-province providers are creating opportunities for patients who are willing to travel outside Manitoba to access care faster while Manitoba continues to build capacity at home.

  • A program for spine surgeries at Sanford Health in Fargo, North Dakota is providing options for Manitobans with conditions such as spinal stenosis and chronic degenerative disc disease.
  • Hip and knee replacement surgeries are being offered through partnerships with the Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital in Cleveland, Big Thunder Orthopedic Associates in North West Ontario and Sanford Health.
  • Foot, ankle, and shoulder surgeries are being offered through partnerships with Cambie Surgical Centre in Vancouver, Clearpoint Don Mills in Toronto, Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital in Cleveland and University of California San Francisco.

Learn more about out-of-province options here.

Support for Successful Recovery
Manitobans recovering from total hip and knee replacement surgery can now access physiotherapy and rehabilitation services from any registered physiotherapist in Manitoba, at no cost.

Patients who have had undergone total hip or knee replacement surgery since January 1, 2023, and who have not received treatment, qualify for up to six individual physiotherapy sessions or 10 group sessions. Connecting eligible patients with this care is part of the discharge process following surgery. If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact the patient navigation team:

Non-Surgical Interventions
Just over 1,110 Manitobans are waiting on an assessment from the Winnipeg Spine Assessment Clinic. About 90 per cent of patients referred to the Spine Assessment Clinic can be helped through non-surgical interventions such as physiotherapy, chiropractic care or other pain management solutions, rather than spinal surgery.

In April 2022, the province announced an investment in four new physical therapists at the Spine Assessment Clinic. This expanded patient capacity has allowed average patient wait times for assessments to decrease by 63 per cent from an average of 147 days to 55. As of April 2023, more than 3,846 referrals had been made to the clinic, and 3,222 assessments had been completed.

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Request for Supply Arrangement (RFSA)

One of the tools the Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force uses to address backlogs, reduce wait times and build system resilience is a Request for Supply Arrangement process. Issued quarterly, RFSAs call for the submission of proposals for solutions that meet specific needs in our health system.

Proposals can be submitted by Service Delivery Organizations (SDOs) — regional healthcare facilities and teams — within the public health system, or by contracted health service suppliers both in and outside Manitoba. A team from DSRTF, often supported by other subject matter experts, rigorously assess each proposal against specific criteria including costs and its ability to increase patient volumes and reduce waitlists.

As of March 31, 2023, 132 separate initiatives were proposed, reviewed, approved and funded through the DSRTF, which have resulted in:

  • a total of 72,391 more diagnostic and surgery procedures completed, and
  • an overall 42% reduction in COVID-19 backlogs.

The DSRTF has reduced backlogs for 35 of 36 surgical or diagnostic procedures that it is currently working on. This includes:

  • completely eliminating the backlog for 17 procedures, and reducing the backlog by 50% or more for another 5 procedures.

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