Exploring wait time variations in a prostate cancer patient pathway—A qualitative study
Anne Grete ValbekmoForfatter
Norwegian health authorities emphasise that all citizens should have equal access to healthcare and implement cancer patient pathways (CPPs) to ensure medical care for all patients within the same time frame and to avoid unwanted variation. Statistics regarding prostate cancer indicate longer wait times for patients from a local hospital compared to patients from a university hospital. This study describes which health system-related factors influence variations in wait times.
Eighteen healthcare workers participated in qualitative individual interviews conducted using a semi-structured interview guide. Transcripts were analysed by systematic text condensation, which is a cross-case method for the thematic analysis of qualitative data. The analysis unveiled four categories describing possible health system-related factors causing variation in times spent on diagnostics for patients in the local hospital and in university hospital, respectively: (a) capacity and competence, (b) logistics and efficiency, (c) need for highly specialised investigations, and (d) need for extra consultations. Centralisation of surgical treatment necessitated the transfer of patients, with extra steps indicated in the CPP for patients transferring from the local hospital to the university hospital for surgery.
The local hospital seemed to lack capacity more frequently than the university hospital. Possible factors explaining variations in wait time between the two hospitals concern both internal conditions at the hospitals in organising CPPs and the implications of transferring patients between hospitals. Differences in hospitals' capacity can cause variations in wait time. The extra steps involved in transferring patients between hospitals can lead to additional time spent in CPP.