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Text Updates Improve the Hospital Waiting Room Experience

Posted by Henry Cheang | April 4, 2014 8:00 AM

Text updates make waiting room experiences less excruciating

As readers of this blog know, we’ve been writing a lot on how technology and automation augment business processes and company performance overall. Today, I’ll be taking a different tack, and look at how communication technologies can improve other aspects of life. Case in point: The Montreal Children's Hospital has taken on the role of trailblazer again by launching a technology-facilitated wait time service for parents. This is the first-such service in Quebec.

Montreal Childrens Hospital Waiting Room

The program was devised by two engineers at the McGill University Health Centre, Jean Pierre Cordeau and Jorge Pomalaza, along with Dr. Harley Eisman, Director of the Montreal Children's Hospital's Pediatric Emergency Department. The basic flow of the service is as follows. After parents and patients arrive at the hospital’s Emergency Department, the triage nurse evaluates the medical condition. If it’s a crisis, then obviously, the patient gets immediate care. If it’s not a crisis, then:

  • Parents sign up via smartphone or at a kiosk just outside the ED triage area; they furnish the hospital card/Medicare card number and a cell phone number as well as indicate language preference (English or French);
  • The service sends out a text message (SMS) within minutes, detailing their child’s status in the ED;
  • The child’s status vis-Ă -vis position in the waiting room is updated every five minutes;
  • When there remain five or fewer patients ahead of the child, parents are notified that their child will soon receive an evaluation – the parents can then return to the ED if they’ve gone elsewhere in the meantime. Which they probably have…

Sign-up today!

A virtual waiting room – it’s certainly better than a physical waiting room…

You see, those of us who live in Montreal know just how long emergency room wait times can get – at last check, the average waiting time is up to 21 hours. Even the best Montreal-area hospital has waits that clock in at 14 hours. With times like this, most of us who have been to ERs (myself included) have always taken the chance to go out for a walk or even a meal during the ER wait if the disease wasn’t quite debilitating.

And when I was a child, I didn’t even have that option. My parents were (and still are) blessed with near-infinite patience. They would quietly and stoically wait for our turn, hours upon hours on end. The sole breach with discipline that they permitted me was to let me constantly go up to the secretary or nurse at reception to peek at the queue of patient files that were listed ahead of my own. Thanks to the Montreal Children’s Hospital text service, a virtual waiting room is now enabled wherein the stressed-out parents can actually do something other than wait and steep in their anxiety, and the actual patients themselves can play or nap.

A genius idea?

The interesting thing here is that we have had the technology for ages – it’s only simple SMS, after all. And now that someone has implemented it and made it look easy, all I can do is just marvel at how no one else has already done it ages ago. This brings to mind a certain quote by Woody Guthrie:

"Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple."

More and more, it’s becoming obvious to me that the technology we already have at our disposal can enrich our lives far beyond what we dreamt possible in our childhoods. All we have to do is imagine our ideal scenario, and then execute it.

And that, incidentally, is one of Cimpl’s core values: Execute! We say we’re going to do something, and then we do it. Our word is our bond! Every time. It’s how we got to the top of the Canadian market for managing technology – we know what technology is capable of doing, so we go out and we do it. We also want to share this vision of technology enhancing and improving society and the human experience, and that’s why we’ll always bring you fascinating news about the interplay between technology and life! Thanks for reading!

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Topics: Core Values, Company Culture, Tips

Written by Henry Cheang

Henry has a lifelong passion for science and technology. This enthusiasm is put to good use in a cutting-edge software company like Cimpl. As product marketer, Henry researches market and user needs to develop user and buyer personas, contributes to product design, and helps coordinate product messaging. Henry also writes nearly the entirety of all documentation for Cimpl’s many successful platforms. In his spare time, Henry devotes much energy to family, friends, and martial arts. Henry recently completed his Master’s in Business and Administration from Concordia University, where he specialized in the study of marketing, organizational behavior, and corporate governance. He has authored academic papers on the latter two subjects; these papers form part of his bibliography of over 20 professional research publications.

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