New technology enables A&E patients to check waiting times

Emergency department patients can use TV screens and smart phones to check their place in the queue

15th April 2021 about a 3 minute read
“With relatively simple technology we believe we can make a huge difference to patient experience and support staff at the same time by reducing interruptions.” Dr Gabriel Jones, Emergency Medicine Consultant at St George’s Hospital

One of UK’s first dual queuing and self check-in systems, where patients see real time updates of their queue position on TV screens and smartphones, has been launched in a South West London Emergency Department.

St George’s University Hospital has installed the system supported by a Health Innovation Network grant.

The new system is called “” and reassures people that they have not been missed so they don’t have to keep asking emergency reception staff about their queue position. This should help free up staff time for booking in new patients. – previously called “” – also allows patients to complete a brief assessment questionnaire while they wait, using their own smartphone, which saves time during the assessment.

The technology aims to reduce patient anxiety around waiting times and improve efficiency.

Funded by the NHS Health Innovation Network, a joint Emergency Department and Transformation project team at St George’s was awarded £9,928 to design and build the software system and install TV monitors in the waiting areas.

Previously a whiteboard behind the reception desk was used to display general waiting times and updated every hour. But patients could not see their individual position in the queue which often led to concern, repeated questions to reception staff and, occasionally, aggressive and abusive behaviour towards staff.

The second function – the assessment questionnaire – is aimed at enabling patients to tell clinicians why they are in the ED in their own words. It also reduces clinical administration workload and creates better quality, standardised medical documentation.

Saving staff time

The software is integrated with Cerner, the hospitals’ electronic health record system, so questionnaire responses are sent directly into the electronic clinical notes. This reduces note-typing time by around eight minutes per patient. 

This means that if just half of St George’s 400 ED daily attenders use the new system it could amount to a potential saving of more than 26 hours of clinical time every day.

Now live, the team hope that will be adopted by other NHS Emergency Departments. Projects are also underway to develop it for use in outpatient departments.

Dr Gabriel Jones, Emergency Medicine Consultant at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“We are passionate about trying new ways to improve patient experience and safety and we believe better queue visibility will give patients reassurance and free up reception team time.

“Emergency departments are pressured and all you want is to do the best for patients. It’s difficult at the moment when we can’t easily answer their top question: when will I be seen?

“With relatively simple technology we believe we can make a huge difference to their experience and support staff at the same time by reducing interruptions. Greater transparency over the complex queues we operate will help everyone gain a greater understanding of how teams are working to help people.”

More details are available from the Health Innovation Network South London



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