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Partners in health

How long will my appointment take?

A head and shoulders photograph of Dr. Kevin Cheung and Ivan Terekhov standing beside a computer monitor which displays how long families should expect to wait in CHEO’s plastic surgery clinic.

“We learned from families that when they come to the plastic surgery clinic for an appointment, part of their frustration in the reception area is that they don’t know how long to expect their wait to be,” says Dr. Kevin Cheung, CHEO plastic surgeon. 

When families know what to expect, they are less likely to become impatient and anxious.

Similar to knowing whether your bus is delayed or how long the wait is for a table at a restaurant, Dr. Cheung imagined a simple way to inform families of how long they should expect to be in the waiting room, and how long their entire appointment will take. This idea won the Ottawa Hacking Health CHEO Pilot Opportunity Prize in 2017 (Hacking Health is global movement to improve health care with chapters all over the world).

The Ambulatory Care and Information Technology (IT) teams took up Cheung’s challenge. Rob Cooney, the former Manager, Ambulatory Care, and Ivan Terekhov, Business Systems Analyst, figured out how to get this information from Epic, CHEO’s electronic health record system. 

As a pilot, IT installed a monitor at the plastic surgery check-in desk which displays, in real-time, the average number of minutes families can expect to wait in the reception area and the total length of their appointments. 

Now, they intend to further improve families’ experiences. The plastic surgery waiting room display could be installed in every outpatient clinic at CHEO. 

“With enough data about a child’s age and type of injury, we hope to be able to predict their approximate visit duration,” Cheung says. “Knowing in advance how long each type of appointment will take, we will be able to change the way we schedule, not only to reduce families’ time spent in the waiting room but also to use CHEO resources more efficiently.”

MyChart powers ever more communication between families and health-care teams

 Head-and-shoulders photographs of three women standing, smiling, in front of bookshelves filled with file folders.

MyChart, CHEO’s secure, online patient portal, connects families to their CHEO electronic health record, anywhere, at any time.

More CHEO departments now include direct two-way communication between families and their health-care teams. The Asthma team, Autism program, Bone Health, Centre for Healthy Active Living, Chronic Pain clinic, Complex Care, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, Endocrinology, Ear Nose and Throat, Gastroenterology, Gynecology, Interprofessional Feeding Team, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Occupational Therapy, Respirology, and Rheumatology all encourage two-way messaging.

Children, youth and families receiving care in any of these clinics can send messages directly to their CHEO health-care team. MyChart permits email-like messages to pass back and forth behind CHEO’s firewall, which keeps this information secure and makes it part of the health record.

Audiology, Dermatology, Infectious Diseases, and the Children’s Treatment Centre will be coming on board in the near future.

Since June, children, youth and families receive surgery date reminders via MyChart. Surgery date reminders are sent twice — seven days prior and 48 hours prior to scheduled surgeries. They include links to everything a family needs to know like what to expect, when to stop eating, and what to bring on the day of surgery.

For more information and to sign up, see the MyChart information page.

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