Montreal hospital tells you if you’re next with a text

After many years of patients and their families sitting around in the waiting rooms of hospitals unsure of how many people are going to be called before them…it is finally their turn.

The Montreal Children’s Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) is texting people to let them know when they will be called.

The Montreal Children’s Hospital’s ED is implementing a program where patients and family members can sign up via their smartphones or by registering at a kiosk located just outside the ED’s triage area. This service allows them  to “wait” in a virtual waiting room rather than in person – this alleviates the pressure on stressed out parents so that they can grab something to eat or drink and not lose their spot in line. 

This service was created by a team of 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.

How it works

– Sign up for text at kiosk or via smartphone
– Receive updates every 5 minutes on position in wait-room
– Receive text notifying when there are 5 or less people ahead of them

“Once a patient has been evaluated by the triage nurse, parents can input either their child’s hospital card or Medicare card number to register for the text message (SMS) service via the kiosk or the website,” says Cordeau. “Parents must also provide a cell phone number and select French or English language preference. Once the information has been submitted, they will receive their first SMS within a few minutes, detailing a summary of their child’s status in the Emergency Department.”

Patients and families continue to receive updates on their position in the ED waiting room every five minutes just in case anything changes, so they are always informed. Once the wait ahead of the patient gets to be five or less people, they will receive a text message letting them know that they will be called in soon.

Wait times for hospitals province-wide average around five and a half hours for complex conditions and two hours for minor conditions.

Below is a map of the average wait times for complex conditions at Toronto hospitals. Only the hospitals with data are listed. For more information visit the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care’s website.


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