How would you like to know how long you will wait in the Emergency Department?

When you go to an Emergency Department of a hospital, how would you like to know how long you are going to have to wait before a doctor sees you? In Singapore, I visited the Khoo Teck Puat hospital – a fairly new hospital.

In the Emergency Department is a television monitor which tells you the current average waiting time. The time is revised every five minutes . The monitor also shows the number of a patients waiting and there is a webcam photo of the waiting patients. Better still, you can go to the website of the hospital and see the same image and the waiting time, too. This might help you decide which hospital to go to. Or it might influence what time you go.

I have looked at the screen several times today and the waiting time has varied betweeen 47 minutes to 132 minutes in the small hours of the morning. These waiting times are pretty good by British and Australian standards. But they are better still when you remember that the cases that come in by ambulance probably do not come into the reckoning. The ambulances have a separate entrance so as not to disturb the walk-in patients. I guess that the waiting time for those cases is much less and that their waiting times are not included in the average waiting time.

Have a look at the Khoo Teck Puat waiting time. It is wonderfully transparent.  It also probably adds very little to the costs of running the hospital. The hospital anyway has a system copied from the Toyota car production system whereby every patient has a unique code. The moment when that patient goes to see a doctor is recorded as a matter of routine in the electronic record. In fact, certainly for those emergency patients who are admitted, there is a system whereby every procedure is listed and if any of them is delayed longer than the target time, it is highlighted on a screen inside the hospital which can be seen by the doctors and nurses.

  1. Private hospitals can do emergency care
  2. Private emergency healthcare apparently growing in Australia
  3. Six months wait for an MRI scan
  4. More manipulation of hospital waiting times
  5. “between 5 and 10 per cent of patients end up waiting longer than the four-hour target. At peak times that can rise to 15 per cent – that’s a million patients”
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