News Release

REF NO.: 84

SUBJECT: Reducing wait times: $4.8 million to reduce emergency room wait times and improve patient care

DATE: July 17, 2019

Canadian emergency departments have some of the longest wait times compared to many other first world countries. Last year, Canada spent more than $253 billion on health care, yet there are still challenges when it comes to wait times and patient outcomes.
A group of researchers at the Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, are hoping to change that with an innovative program designed to lower emergency room wait times in Newfoundland and Labrador.
On July 12, Seamus O’Regan, minister of Indigenous Services, on behalf of Ginette Petitpas Taylor, minister of Health, announced a joint federal-provincial investment of $4.8 million.
The program, SurgeCon, started as an app developed and tested at the Carbonear Hospital last year by Dr. Chris Patey and Mr. Paul Norman. The app’s algorithm helped increase staffing efficiencies by ensuring there were enough health-care professionals to accommodate busy periods, reducing the average wait time from 104 minutes to 42 minutes.
Dr. Shabnam Asghari, the lead researcher for the expanded SurgeCon program, says they can now expand on that localized initiative to implement SurgeCon across Eastern Health’s other facilities over the next four years.
“SurgeCon is now a compound intervention which includes an E-Health component that uses artificial intelligence to predict overcapacity through real-time emergency department data such as bed availability, average wait times and available resources; a university accredited training program for staff; and a series of quality improvement and patient engagement initiatives to ensure patient centric outcomes,” noted Dr. Asghari. “Together, the components of the intervention will further improve emergency department efficiency and reduce wait times.”
The funding, partly through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), is part of a Rewarding Success Initiative by the Government of Canada. If successful at saving money, provincial partners have agreed to re-invest some of the savings in further health research.
The research is made possible by the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research(SPOR), a series of funding partnerships between CIHR, provinces and territories, philanthropic organizations, academic institutions, and health charities. At its core, SPOR is about providing the evidence needed to inform the development of health policies and improve the health care system for patients.

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