Providence Health Care launches live Emergency Department wait times website

Vancouver, BC – Residents living in Metro Vancouver can now access live emergency department wait times at six local hospitals thanks to a partnership between Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and Providence Health Care (PHC).

The Emergency Department Wait Times Dashboard ( is an online tool allowing residents to check average waits in real time at Vancouver General, St. Paul’s, Mount Saint Joseph, Lions Gate and Richmond hospitals.

“Providing patients with information on wait times for non-critical visits at emergency departments is an innovative use of technology,” says Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid, who recently met with the team behind the ED dashboard for a first-hand orientation. “Congratulations and thanks to everyone who was involved in developing the dashboard.”

The data, which will also be directly accessible via the VCH ( and PHC ( web sites and is smartphone friendly, is captured through the triage process at each of the hospital emergency departments. 

“We originally developed the Dashboard as a way for emergency department staff and paramedics to smooth out emergency department volumes and improve patient flow,” says Dr. Eric Grafstein, regional head of emergency medicine for VCH as well as an emergency department physician at St. Paul’s Hospital. “Staff can see which EDs have capacity and then direct patients accordingly, which leads to a much more efficient use of hospital resources and a way to help relieve congestion.”

According to Dr. Grafstein—who also developed the site—there were benefits to making the tool available to the public, since three-quarters of all ED visits are walk-in patients. “The dashboard allows patients with non-critical illnesses to choose where to receive treatment based on the shortest average wait time to see a doctor,” he says.

The first site of its kind in BC to use real time to identify wait times, similar emergency department dashboards are also available in Calgary, Edmonton and Kitchener, Ontario. The tool is also successfully used throughout the United States.  

The dashboard works by calculating the average wait time for all patients who arrive at the emergency department in the preceding hour, with site times updated every five minutes. Critically ill patients are excluded from the calculation because they are always seen immediately. The dashboard also displays the average time it takes for nine out of ten patients who visit the emergency department to be seen by a doctor.

“We’re excited to be able to take something initially developed for staff and use it to provide the public with valuable healthcare information,” adds Dr. Grafstein. “This is a great example of our continuing commitment to provide the best care we can to patients.”

The web site will also be useful for BC Ambulance staff who can use the data to determine the most appropriate location for patients based not only on clinical need, but the time they may wait to be seen.

While developed by VCH and PHC, the technology was created with the potential to expand to other BC health authorities should the opportunity arise.

VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.

Providence Health Care (PHC) is one of Canada's largest faith-based health care organizations, operating 16 health care facilities in Greater Vancouver. PHC operates one of two adult academic health science centres in the province, performs cutting-edge research in more than 30 clinical specialties, and focuses its services on six “populations of emphasis”: cardio-pulmonary risks and illnesses, HIV/AIDS, mental health, renal risks and illness, specialized needs in aging and urban health and is home to the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

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Viola Kaminski, Public Affairs Officer
Vancouver Coastal Health
Phone: 604-708-5338


Dave Lefebvre, Media Relations
Providence Health Care
Phone: 604-837-6003