Using Targets to Reduce Waiting Times for Elective Care: What Can We Learn from the Russian Experience?
This article explores the potential for maximum waiting times targets to improve access to healthcare in a country with limited financial resources. The study combines policy analysis, offthe-record communications, face-to-face interviews, public opinion surveys and open access patient complaints to create a rich picture of how waiting time targets are monitored and implemented in theory and practice. The study found that most waiting time targets in the
Russian Federation are unrealistically low, while institutional and operational arrangements for their implementation have not been built in most regions. Estimates of actual waiting times are fragmented and unreliable. The lack of meaningful regulation and monitoring encourages opportunistic behavior among health providers to meet the targets while there is growing uncertainty among patients. Maximum waiting times targets alone are insufficient to reduce excessive waiting times. Successful implementation relies on robust data systems and standardized measurements
for waiting times as well as meaningful regulation and monitoring.