It’s one of the biggest bugbears for patients the world over and can waste hours of valuable time for paramedics.
But Cabrini Health is working on a revolutionary project that could transform waiting times in emergency departments.
It’s teamed up with the Department of Mathematics at Monash University to predict just how long a patient will have to wait to be seen. The work is building on an earlier project which allows the public to go online and see their estimated wait time, but that proved to be not always accurate.
It’s hoped that new algorithms being developed by the mathematicians will enable real-time analytics to be displayed for the first time. A test run is expected to take place within six months at Cabrini and, if successful, will be extended foruse in other hospitals, including St Vincent’s.
Michael Ben-Meir, Director of Emergency Medicine at Cabrini, said it would not only benefit patients but paramedics too. “The number one thing we get asked by patients is how long do they have to wait. If they can see there is a long wait time here, they can go to another emergency department. It will also allow paramedics who have to wait to offload patients to go to another hospital saving them valuable time too.”
Dr Ben-Meir said it had been important to stress to the public that even if the waiting time was predicted to be lengthy, high-risk patients would always be seen immediately.
“We would never want to deter anyone with bad chest pain or suffering from a seizure to delay coming into emergency or travel to an emergency department further away. Anyone deemed high risk will always be seen immediately. This just gives people choice and we know that patients appreciate it.”