Emergency wait times now available in real time

Richmond Hospital’s emergency department had the highest average wait time of five Vancouver-area hospitals Tuesday afternoon.

Richmond’s wait of two hours and 26 minutes was high compared to Vancouver General Hospital’s 24-minute queue, but continued to drop. The data is from a website launched Monday that allows would-be patients to check waits in real time.

Dubbed the Emergency Department Wait Times Dashboard, the online tool also supplies data for St. Paul’s, Mount Saint Joseph and Lions Gate hospitals.

“We originally developed the dashboard as a way for emergency department staff and paramedics to smooth out emergency department volumes and improve patient flow,” said Dr. Eric Grafstein in a news release. “Staff can see which (emergency departments) have capacity and then direct patients accordingly, which leads to a much more efficient use of hospital resources and a way to help relieve congestion.”

Grafstein, who developed the site, said since three-quarters of all visits are walk-in patients, making the tool available to the public was seen as a benefit.

“The dashboard allows patients with non-critical illnesses to choose where to receive treatment based on the shortest average wait time to see a doctor,” he said.

It’s the first online tool of its kind in B.C., but similar data is also shared with the public in Alberta, Ontario and United States.

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