Seven Oaks posts ED wait times

Pilot project aims to improve patient communication

Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, November / December 2009

The Winnipeg Health Region has launched a new pilot project at Seven Oaks General Hospital to improve communication and service to Emergency Department visitors.

"When visiting an emergency room, patients and families want to know what to expect and how quickly they will receive the care they need," Health Minister Theresa Oswald says. "This pilot project will provide patients with more information and improve the communication between patients and their health care providers."

A new electronic information board has been added to the patient waiting area to provide regularly updated information on how busy the emergency department is and approximate wait times. A new brochure will support ED visitors in understanding the care they receive and encourage feedback and suggestions on their experience.

"We're working to see patients safely and quickly, and ensure that seriously ill patients are given priority for care," says Dr. Brian Postl, President and CEO of the Winnipeg Health Region. "We also want to support the patient's visit to the Emergency Department."

"The pilot project will prevent frustration because it helps communicate directly to individuals and family members waiting," says Dr. Ricardo Lobato de Faria, Emergency Medicine Director for the Region.

Dr. Lobato de Faria, who is also the provincial advisor on emergency patient care, said it is important that people waiting for emergency help do not get frustrated and leave. "No one should leave without being treated," he said.

The electronic information board draws on up-to-date information from the Emergency Department Information System to provide details on the number of patients in the waiting room, average time patients have been waiting, longest time a patient currently in the waiting room has been waiting, and the average time patients now receiving treatment waited to see a doctor. The new information brochure includes information on the initial assessment and exam process, discusses the importance of not leaving before being treated, assists in answering key questions, and includes a form for patients and families to provide feedback and suggestions to further improve emergency care.

Lori Lamont, Region Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, says the project shows how the patient experience can be improved at little cost. "The physical cost of the project was minimal - mostly the cost of the TV screen and a computer - but a lot of planning and background work took place by technical staff before it could proceed," she says, noting the system was developed internally and cost under $9,700.

The Seven Oaks pilot will be evaluated, including patient feedback, and changes may be made to further enhance the system.

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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