Open Data helps patients reduce waiting times

Patients are able to check how long they might expect to wait at emergency departments across Northern Ireland with Waiting Times +, a new website built by ODI Belfast and the Detail Data project.

The information helps patients choose the emergency department where they’re more likely to receive treatment sooner.  This is especially helpful for patients at busy periods, such as evenings and weekends, and for those who are close to more than one A&E that they could travel to. The data comes from NI Direct.

Monitoring of waiting times and hospital performance is made easier by detailed and interactive charts on the website, which make use of open data published by the Department of Health. This not only covers emergency care, but also outpatients, inpatient and day cases across the different branches of medicine, where waiting times for consultant and surgical appointments extend to weeks rather than hours.

Being able to monitor waiting times for surgeries and treatments helps patients, GPs and health service professionals keep an eye on what is happening with waiting times for surgery and appointments with consultants.

In each of these areas the health service has different targets that they aim to meet. Waiting Times + helps to identify whether they are meeting them.

It’s also beneficial for the health service. Up-to-date and reliable information has the potential to reduce pressure on busy Accident and Emergency departments in a number of ways. As this article from The Guardian notes, there are a number of new and innovative ways that health trusts are using to better target resources and quickly respond to demand, and publishing waiting times is one of them.

Real-time data on average waiting times helps emergency departments meet their 4-hour targets (95% of patients should be admitted or treated and discharge within 4 hours of arrival) by allowing patients to choose which A&E they visit.

Interactive charts also show the ups and downs of average waiting times over the course of recent days.

waiting times at NI emergency departments


Waiting times for particular clinical specialities (e.g. Cardiology, Neurology, Urology) can also be investigated for outpatients and for inpatient and day cases.

number dermatology patients waiting by time band

Our performance tables also make it easy to how HSC Trusts and medical branches are meeting targets.

Inpatients performance monitoring

For more interactive charts and live information, visit Waiting Times +


Photo by Chris Kang (CC-BY)

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