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Where does the waiting list begin? A short review of the dynamics and organization of modern waiting lists

Rotstein DL, Alter DA. Soc Sci Med. 2006; 62(12):3157-60. Epub 2005 Dec 22.

Waiting for medical care is the by-product of system rationing, where demand exceeds supply. In this short report we expand on the conventional concept of the queue, by focusing on the regulation of demand and by incorporating a funnel and spout analogy. Real-world examples are used to illustrate the infancy of funnel or demand-side reform initiatives targeting the queue, and the suggestion is made that policy needs to address the concept of ‘waiting’ much earlier in the treatment cycle.

Keywords: Access to health care Health care quality Health care services