Hospital app on tap for new year

The real-time wait time to see an emergency department doctor in Red Deer should be accessible in the new year on the Alberta Health Services’ app for mobile devices.

The real-time wait time to see an emergency department doctor in Red Deer should be accessible in the new year on the Alberta Health Services’ app for mobile devices.

Estimated wait times for hospitals in Calgary and Edmonton are already available on the free AHS app, as well as online at the AHS website.

Online wait times for Calgary have been available since July 2011 and on the AHS app since October 2011. Edmonton hospitals have been online and on the app since July 2012.

Soon it will be Red Deer’s turn.

Kerry Bales, chief zone officer for AHS Central Zone, said the intention is for the real-time wait time at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s emergency department to be available both on the app and online in early 2016.

“We’re fully anticipating to be live as early in the new year as possible,” Bales said on Wednesday.

“I’m not expecting we’ll see any unanticipated delays.”

He said the reason why Red Deer’s wait time isn’t yet available has to do with the details of getting the infrastructure, software and systems in place to automatically capture information.

“It’s an automated process. There aren’t staff or physicians that actively are managing this information. It’s just a byproduct of them doing the work that they do and entering their work into our systems.”

Currently there is no way for the public to access this information about the Red Deer hospital.

“We’re really quite excited for people to be able to have that information and to help (Central Albertans) make some of their choices,” Bales said.

“It’s mostly designed to be a tool to give people options.”

Wait times on the app and online are identical, and are updated every two minutes.

Bales said wait times are only an estimate for how long it will take for people to have their initial assessment by a doctor. Access to treatment depends on the patient’s medical needs and the needs of other patients in emergency.

Bales said the wait time can vary a lot and can change quickly.

Red Deer is the referral centre for other hospitals in Central Zone.

The AHS quarterly performance report ending March 31, 2015 showed the median time for an initial assessment by a physician was 1.2 hours in the Red Deer emergency department. That means that half the patients waited 1.2 hours or longer, and half had shorter waits.

Central Zone does have other information available with the AHS app like the location of Central Alberta health facilities, and influenza immunization information.

People can also call public health contacts, like HealthLink Alberta with the app. Most recently, the app has allowed people to list their medications. Other functions will be added to the app in the future.

The AHS App is available at the Apple App Store.

For more information visit www.albertahealthservices.ca/mobile.asp.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com