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On the Rise: Emergency Department Waiting Times

In terms of Canadian statistics, seeing most things on an increase, generally and from a nationalistic standpoint, is quite positive. Whether its GDP, or commercial revenue, seeing growth in Canadian numbers is important. Well, at least for the vast majority of the time.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), the amount of time most Canadians spend waiting in emergency departments to be admitted to hospital is on the ever most unfortunate rise. Furthermore, the emergency department (ED) length of stay for people admitted to hospital in 2016–2017 was up 11% from the year before. In addition, and conclusively, this is almost 17% from 5 years ago, according to CIHI data, which is based on more than 11.2 million ED visits across the country last year.  In continuation, 90% of ED visits for those admitted were completed within 32.6 hours, which means 1 in 10 people waited longer.

“Achieving timely admissions for all ED patients who need to spend the night in hospital is an area where there have been persistent challenges over the past 10 years, and we’re seeing that for some people in Canada the wait is getting even longer,” says Greg Webster, the director of Acute and Ambulatory Care Information Services at CIHI. In all evidence, prolonging the ailment of a patient, particularly in an emergency setting, is never recommended. Waiting and throwing away time will not only push back treating patients, but eventually cause a seemingly never-ending cycle.

Admitted patients spent a long time in the ED in 2016–2017.  Fundamentally, 90% of visits were completed within 32.6 hours; this, thus, being a significant increase from 29.3 hours the year before and 28.3 hours in 2012–2013.  Every jurisdiction saw an increase in ED length of stay for admitted patients. “There has been a focus on trying to improve patient flow through the hospital, with many facilities having initiatives to reduce emergency department wait times,” says Kira Leeb, CIHI’s director of Health System Performance”.

Time management, in this particular example especially, is crucial. In the medical field, with many patients to serve all at once, staying organized and concise is everything. With percentages that show a rise in the waiting time of emergency servicing, having a clear documentation system that helps medical professionals medicate and treat patients will undoubtedly allow for more time in other respects. If hospitals want to see a sharp and quick change to these stats, then their investment in documentation systems could be a good fix for them.

Having a documentation system that enables workers to store quality and key information about each patient on a respective individual profile would be a good way to stay time-oriented. Moreover, having a tracking system that keeps note of a patient’s medical scheduling in terms of medication, activities and meals would definitely be a positive addition. And everyone is tired of rigorous hand written reports. If only there’d be software that respects and exemplifies all these needs…

Fortunately, there’s SemCare; the ultimate care process management IT solution used to facilitate the exchange of medical data. Its goal: to improve the flow and distribution of info between healthcare professionals, care givers, and patients. Moreover, SemCare’s use of semantic technology allows professionals within the field of medicine to encode meaning-based data of associative wording and categorization.

Fundamentally, SemCare’s strength lives within its own features. Through SemCare, medical professionals can store all information about a patient on their respective patient profile, accessed through a distinct personal identification number. In continuation, the system enables you to create a documentation/care report for a patient, replacing the tedious hand-written format. This, in turn, will benefit hospital workers, allowing them to have a clear understanding of each patient.

Furthermore, through maintaining an overview of all medical practices required for a customized patient, SemCare informs the user what medication to administer and even suggests which ways would be best to administer it. An example would be should a patient have a tendency to take 30 minutes to take their medicine, the care process tool will inform the system user to act accordingly based on this semantic fact. Moving forward, and of course, time management! By keeping a clear and detailed track of a patient’s medicinal intake during the hours of the day and their distinct interactions with different professionals, this allows one to save a lot of time.

Formal information is important: medication dosages, meal intake, etc. However, informal information is just as vital for patient care. Every patient is different. SemCare not only takes not of formal medical information about dosages and infections, but also informal information. Let’s take the following example. A long-term care patient prefers to eat by the window and takes 30 minutes to digest his medication properly. Through SemCare, nurses can now take note of this and act accordingly instead of repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Taking into account the mentioned example, with knowledge of the informal information, a nurse can prepare herself accordingly to the patient, allowing for a much smoother and concise contact.

SemCare enables professionals within the medical field to stay on time and within an organized schedule. Through this electronic platform, professionals can save all patient data on a clear and concise profile. This system encourages the notion of accuracy and productivity through maintaining a clean understanding of a patient’s information; and thus, discouraging misinformation all together. By having a documentation system that allows medical workers to focus on tasks like improving waiting times.

All in all, yes, waiting times in the emergency department are rising. But instead of purely focusing on the negatives at hand, it’s important to fully understand what can be done to see improvements. Medical centers should ask themselves: “What time-management solution can we use to decrease this number?” and “What solution can keep us organized and succinct?”

Failing to do so won’t only keep the situation at an ailed status quo, but things will most likely and most probably get much worse. With Canadian stats showing a rise that doesn’t look to be going down anytime soon, the time to act is now.

 Gabriel Pugliese, 2018

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