Emergency Q brings wait times to screens

Deciding where to go for treatment for your urgent but non-life threatening illness or injury has just got much easier in Hawke’s Bay. 

As well as helping with decision-making, the new, free Emergency Q app can tell you how long the total treatment time in the Emergency Department (ED) is for non-emergency cases, and the total treatment time and cost at a general practice walk-in urgent care clinic. 

The app has been introduced to the region by the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board, in the wake of successful implementation at other New Zealand hospitals. 

There are a couple of ways that the information will be useful, said Mark Barlow, Head of Emergency Department.  “If you are unsure what level of care you or someone you are with needs, then hit the app. The first screen lists symptoms that require you to call an ambulance or make your way to ED as quickly as possible. 

“If your injury or illness is on the second list, it means your condition is likely to be given a lower priority in the Emergency Department. Instead, you may be presented with the option to go to your GP or an urgent care clinic in the community.” 

The system includes television screens in the ED department indicating the waiting time for those whose illnesses and injuries are not life-threatening. 

Dr Barlow said it will be particularly useful during times when the department is at its busiest

“As everyone would expect, our Emergency Department staff prioritise treatment of the critically unwell first, and so that pushes everyone else further and further down the queue. 

“Next come those whose illnesses or injuries cannot be treated elsewhere, or require admission to hospital.” 

People who don’t require those services might choose not to wait; instead going to a general practice or, if it is after hours, a community urgent care service.

At this stage, there is just one community urgent care service enrolled with the app, however three more are in the process of completing registration. 

The introduction of this clinically-led solution is the result of “an exciting collaboration across the Hawke’s Bay Health system,” said executive director digital enablement Anne Speden. “This initiative focuses on better patient outcomes by supporting treatment in the most appropriate context and timeframe.” 

People can find the app, Emergency Q, in their smartphone’s app store. The emergency department information is updated hourly, primarily based on the number of patients managed over the previous 60 minutes. 

Hawke’s Bay Hospital emergency department nurses, from left, Yvette Laporte and Heidi Pepper, check out the hospital view of the new Emergency Q system with Auckland nurse and Emergency Q provider relationships manager Hannah Furse.

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