Estimated emergency department wait times now online
June 5, 2012
EDMONTON — Alberta Health Services (AHS) is posting real-time estimated wait times on its website for emergency departments in the Edmonton Zone, beginning today.
This tool is designed to help patients decide where to access care for themselves and their families. Anyone needing emergency care is always reminded to call 911, or to go to the nearest emergency department.
“This provincial initiative is designed to provide patients and the public with up-to-the-minute estimated wait times for emergency departments,” said Fred Horne, Minister of Alberta Health and Wellness. “This is an example of how we are using innovative tools to further our commitment to improve access to emergency care in the province.”
Improving access and reducing wait times are among the goals outlined in the 5-Year Health Action Plan, jointly developed by the Government of Alberta and AHS, and supported by the province’s stable, 5-year funding.
Estimated wait times will be provided for emergency departments at Royal Alexandra Hospital, University of Alberta Hospital, Misericordia Community Hospital, Sturgeon Community Hospital, Grey Nuns Community Hospital, Leduc Community Hospital, Stollery Children’s Hospital, North East Community Health Centre and Westview Community Hospital. Times for Fort Saskatchewan Hospital will be provided when the supporting software is available in that facility.
The online estimated wait times can be found on the AHS website — www.albertahealthservices.ca — listed under “Emergency Wait Times” on the home page. The tool is also available through an AHS mobile application for iPhone and Android devices, which has been downloaded by more than 3,500 users to date.
Edmonton is the second area of the province to provide this tool to the public. Calgary launched the online wait times last July. The public response has been positive – over the past 10 months, an average of 30,000 hits have been received to the Calgary emergency wait times page.
“Posting emergency department wait times is part of our commitment to be transparent as an organization and to provide the best access to health care for Albertans,” said Dr. Ruben Hansen, Acting Zone Clinical Department Head, Emergency, Edmonton.
“In Calgary, we know that making these times available to the public has helped patients and families to make an informed choice when they access care and resulted in patients being better prepared when they come to an emergency department.”
The times are calculated through a software system that uses current data from each facility to estimate how long it will take patients to be seen by a physician once they have been assessed by a triage nurse. Wait times do not represent the total time patients may spend at the hospital.
“We know that emergency demand can change quickly and dramatically, without notice, so these times are an estimation,” says Carol Manson-McLeod, Executive Director of Emergency for the Edmonton Zone of AHS. “We are providing patients with the same information we have inside the emergency departments – it’s up-to-the-minute data.”
Updating the times is done by the existing software and does not require emergency department staff to update the information.
Wait times for other emergency and urgent care centres will continue to be added to the website in phases as the data becomes available. Regional emergency departments and urgent care centres are being incorporated into future plans for this project.
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than 3.7 million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.
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