Bowmanville Hospital testing AI technology for personalized emergency wait times

Emergency patients at the Bowmanville Hospital will now be getting a more accurate estimate of how long they will have to wait to be seen by a doctor.

Lakeridge Health has launched their Personalized Predicted ED Wait Times pilot initiative, which uses AI technology to provide personalized waiting times on a case-by-case basis. The organization says it’s the first of its kind in the province.

According to Dr. Ilan Lenga, Lakeridge Health’s chief information officer, the tool “uses a number of factors to determine how long someone’s going to wait in the emergency room.”

The technology takes into consideration the patient’s health status, acuity, their complaint while arriving at the hospital and a number of other factors, including the number of doctors available.

After patients are triaged, they will receive real-time information about their wait time before seeing a physician. A TV monitor in the waiting room updates every half hour, informing patients of any changes to their wait time.

The tool is optimized so that no more than 15 per cent of patients would wait beyond their predicted time.

Lenga says the technology is the first to be implemented in the province, as most hospitals give an average wait time based on how the emergency room is functioning, rather than basing the prediction off the patient’s needs.

“When we looked at that option, we found that the variability around average wait time was so high that for patients it felt inaccurate,” he said.

Trent Burns sprained his finger after playing basketball. The 12-year-old has never broken his fingers before and has been to emergency rooms at different hospitals multiple times.

“It’s one of those ,’ok I’m going to go here and then be here for like five and a half hours, I don’t know, I’ll call you when I’m done.’”

The new technology gives Burns’ mother, Jennifer, some relief when it comes to planning her day.

“It can be very challenging as a parent, just keeping your kids occupied for long periods of time,” she said.

“You have to go right away, you don’t have time to prepare for longer wait times, so it does help.”

The new initiative was developed in partnership with Durham College’s Hub for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence.

Lakeridge Health says the pilot project will continue for a few weeks before staff determine whether to implement the tool at other hospitals in Durham.

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