CMH launches Emergency Department wait time clock

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Cambridge, Ontario – Cambridge Memorial Hospital (CMH) has launched an emergency department (ED) wait time clock. This makes the Region of Waterloo the first in Ontario to have all of its acute care hospitals provide ED wait time information to the public. The clock is programmed by Waterloo’s Oculys Health Informatics, Inc. a developer that provides real-time patient management systems for hospitals.

“This is about enhancing the patient experience when they visit our emergency department,” says Rita Sharratt, director, Clinical Programs, adding: “It gives us the means to provide useful and consistent information to patients. It helps them with their expectations and provides some with a choice, which can lessen the stress when visiting an emergency department.” The clock displays the wait time in half-hour increments to see a doctor or nurse practitioner and it reflects the 90th percentile – meaning nine out of ten patients should be seen within this time or less.

The clock also shows the total number of patients in the emergency department broken down by those being treated and those waiting. The programming adapts to the severity of the cases and volumes that present to the ED. For example, when someone comes in with severe injuries that require immediate attention, it can involve a large part of the ED team. The system will calculate this and reflect it back on the wait time.

What is not displayed are admitted patients waiting for an inpatient bed. Sharratt says: “Someone may notice only ten patients being treated when we can normally treat many more than that. They may not realize that many of our stretchers may be occupied by patients awaiting a bed, which reduces our capacity and can significantly add to the wait time. The clock will be a good stepping stone to having this discussion with our patients.”

Originally slated to go live with the opening of the new build, the wait time clock was made available now because of the positive impact it has on the overall patient experience. It will be offline for a few weeks to be recalibrated once the ED moves to its permanent home later this year. “We will be in a unit with over 40 stretchers bays and more than twice the space of what we currently have. The algorithm will need to be tweaked to reflect our new processes,” adds Sharratt.

To see the wait time clock, please visit


About Cambridge Memorial Hospital

Cambridge Memorial Hospital is an acute care hospital offering a full complement of services including surgery, maternity, laboratory, diagnostics and emergency. It employs over 1,100 dedicated and skilled health care professionals, technicians and staff, 280 physicians and 400 volunteers providing exceptional care to the residents of Cambridge, the township of North Dumfries and the Region of Waterloo. For more information, visit

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For media inquiries contact:                                                                                  

Stephan Beckhoff
Manager, Public Affairs and Communications
Cambridge Memorial Hospital
519-621-2333, ext. 2427