Personalized ED wait times

Bowmanville Hospital has introduced the Personalized Predicted ED Wait Times, a pilot initiative that will tell patients in the emergency department (ED) how long they are expected to wait to see a physician.

Using artificial intelligence, the system predicts individual wait times by considering a person’s health status, acuity and factors including the number of health professionals available, how many patients are in the ED, the urgency of all patients’ needs, and the time, day and season. Lakeridge Health is the first Ontario hospital to introduce an individual predicted wait time.

“Waiting in a hospital emergency department is often a source of anxiety and frustration for patients and families,” said Dr. Ilan Lenga, Chief Information Officer, Lakeridge Health. “By informing patients with a personalized, realistic, expected wait time, we hope to alleviate some of the stress that they experience in the ED.”

When patients are triaged at the Bowmanville Hospital ED, they receive real-time information about their anticipated wait time to be assessed by a physician. A TV monitor in the waiting room is updated every 30 minutes with current wait times for each patient, informing each individual about how long they can expect to wait, at all times.

“Improving the patient experience in our emergency departments is a key priority for Lakeridge Health,” said Susan deRyk, Interim President and CEO. “Through regular consultations with patients, results of real-time patient and family surveys and community feedback, people have told us that it is important to know what to expect during an emergency room visit. This system will provide important information about access to services to empower people with the information they need during their care and treatment in the emergency department.”

Patients receive a personal predicted wait time if they have non-acute medical needs and are likely to be discharged from the ED. The most seriously ill and injured patients will not receive a personalized wait time as they always receive urgent treatment in the ED.

“Waiting in the emergency department is stressful,” said Dawn Finnegan, Patient and Family Experience Advisor. “For many patients, one of the biggest concerns is the wait time and this new tool can help to reduce some of the frustration and anxiety and improve communication.”

The new Personalized Predicted ED Wait Time initiative was developed in collaboration with Durham College’s Hub for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence.

“We are proud to partner with Lakeridge Health’s team and bring our expertise in artificial intelligence to benefit patients and the community,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “Leveraging the power of AI, our employees and students are enhancing the quality of life and experience of patients and their families, while we prepare the skilled professionals who will continue to advance our healthcare system.”

The system will be evaluated and adjusted, as needed, based on the results and feedback from patients. Following the pilot, the system is anticipated to be adopted by the three other Lakeridge Health EDs. Please watch a video about Lakeridge Health’s Personalized Predicted ED Wait Time pilot.

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