Starting today, Alberta Health Services is posting estimated wait times for Edmonton emergency rooms in real-time online.
The online tool has already been implemented in Calgary and is designed to help Edmontonians decide which emergency room to go to.
“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,” said Dr. Ruben Hansen, Acting Zone Clinical Department Head, Emergency, Edmonton.
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.
Some people were singing the website’s praises, saying it will cut down on wait times and hopefully balance out emergency rooms.
“The most obvious advantage is avoid long waits and to seek out alternatives if possible, like medi-centres or walk-in clinic for less serious conditions,” said Edmontonian Joanne Hynes, adding that she hopes the service is eventually expanded to clinics and rural hospitals.
“No one likes to wait. We live in a ‘now’ society and demand information immediately. With this service, people will be in the know.”
However, Albertans should still call 911 in an emergency and go to the nearest emergency room.
The times are calculated by software that takes data from each hospital to estimate how long it will take patients to see a doctor after being assessed by a triage nurse.
“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.”
The project is part of AHS’s goal to reduce wait times and improve access through the 5-Year Health Action Plan.
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.
Estimated wait times will be provided for the following emergency departments:
- Royal Alexandra Hospital
- University of Alberta Hospital
- Misericordia Community Hospital
- Sturgeon Community Hospital (St. Albert)
- Grey Nuns Community Hospital
- Leduc Community Hospital
- Stollery Children’s Hospital (Patients 16 and under)
- North East Community Health Centre
- Westview Community Hospital
- Fort Saskatchewan Hospital (Times will be provided when the supporting software is available)