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Real-time wait display in CHEO clinic means one less question

Oct. 16, 2018 — Ottawa — Families often have many questions and concerns when bringing a child to a hospital. Those questions have been reduced by one when they visit CHEO’s plastic surgery clinic. Now they can see real-time predicted wait times based on what is actually happening in the clinic at that moment.

“We have a screen that shows how long someone can expect to wait before going to an examination room, as well as how long they can expect their visit to take,” says Dr. Kevin Cheung, the surgeon who came up with the idea in 2017. This idea won the CHEO Pilot Opportunity Prize at the 2017 and 2018 Hacking Health Ottawa events.

“Clinics can run late because patients with an urgent problem are squeezed into an already busy clinic schedule or require more medical attention than originally estimated. This wait can be stressful,” notes Dr. Cheung. “Knowing how long you may have to wait and how long your visit will be can take away some of the stress of going to the hospital.” 

“Anything we can do to make things better for families is definitely worth it,” adds Dr. Cheung.

This real-time wait display uses data coming directly from the electronic health record, which is called Epic and records the progress of any visit to the hospital — among many other things. Rob Cooney, the former manager of Ambulatory Care, and Ivan Terekhov, a business systems analyst, figured out how to get accurate average wait-time data from Epic and share it with families in real time.

The team is currently testing and getting feedback on the display to determine how it might be useful in other clinics. The next step, says Dr. Cheung, is using this data to change how we schedule appointments so we can reduce the time families spend waiting and more efficiently use our limited resources. “Our goal is to improve our scheduling so an appointment for, say 9:20, means the child or youth is seen by the physician right at that time, without compromising our ability to provide patients and families with exceptional care,” says Dr. Cheung.

CHEO was the first hospital in Canada to recognize the future of electronic health records and partner with Epic — using it for admissions and scheduling back in 1994. With its implementation across the organization, CHEO is in the top 1% (actually, top 0.2%) of Canadian hospitals when it comes to the use of electronic health records.

“It’s great to see that CHEO’s leadership in electronic health information and our drive to continuously improve is making a difference in the lives of the children, youth and families we care for,” says Mari Teitelbaum, Vice-President of Provincial Programs and Chief Information Officer.

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Media contact

Paddy Moore
o. 613-737-7600, ext. 3536 | c. 613-769-5553

About CHEO

Dedicated to helping children and youth live their best lives, CHEO is a global leader in pediatric health care and research. Based in Ottawa, CHEO includes a hospital, children’s treatment centre, school and research institute, with satellite services located throughout Eastern Ontario. CHEO provides excellence in complex pediatric care, research and education. We are committed to partnering with families and the community to provide exceptional care — where, when and how it’s needed. CHEO is a founding member of Kids Health Alliance, a network of partners working to create a high quality, standardized and coordinated approach to pediatric health care that is centred around children, youth and their families. Every year, CHEO helps more than 500,000 children and youth from Eastern Ontario, western Quebec, Nunavut and Northern Ontario.  

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