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E-triage system cuts patient waiting

Jamaica Gleaner / Interventions from the Ministry of Health to introduce the E-triage system, has seen a drastic increase in the number of patients being triaged under 30 minutes at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, with stakeholders expecting a similar trend at the Mandeville Hospital by year end, in addition to other hospitals seeing similar results early next year.

Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, director, emergency disaster management & special services in the health ministry and consultant emergency physician, in discussing findings from the Reducing Waiting Times in Emergency Departments project, noted that the waiting process to triage was long and undocumented in most emergency departments (Eds).

Bisasor-McKenzie said this further resulted in long delays in first contact with a health care provider and affected decisions to divert patients to health centres. The project took place between September 2016 and August 2017.

Findings from the project indicated that in September 2016, 34 percent of patients were triaged under 30 minutes while in August, 2017, 69 per cent of patients were triaged under 30 minutes. In September 2016, 11 per cent of patients waited greater than two hours for triage with four per cent waiting greater than three hours. In August 2017 however, two per cent of patients waited greater than two hours to be seen. Ninety per cent of patients are now triaged under one hour compared to 59 per cent in September 2016.

“There has been considerable improvement in the 120-180 minutes group from 24 per cent of patients to only eight per cent of patients waiting in that category,” Bisasor-McKenzie noted in the project.

She said the information from the project must be utilised in planning for expanded primary care services through extending hours of service at existing health centres and enhancing the service delivered at the primary care facilities to prevent an unnecessary visit to hospital.

“One health centre does not have the capacity to absorb all these diverted clients. A similar picture is expected from the other hospitals. More health centres should extend opening hours to facilitate the demand. This data indicates the extent of the demand for primary care and highlights the gap that exists in the ability of the public health system to meet this demand.”

“The solution does not require more health centres but necessitates increasing access at existing health centres by expanding curative services to more days of the week and into extended hours.”

Phase three of the project is expected to take place in 2018-2019.

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