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Could This App Help Solve N.B.’s Hospital Wait Time Problem?

Three of Queue's founders: (Left) Joshua Sallos, Ishtar Al-Tahir and Chien Dat Nguyen Dinh (Image: Submitted)

FREDERICTON– Hospital wait times is one of New Brunswick’s biggest healthcare challenges, but a team of entrepreneurs thinks they have a solution to help with that.

Ishtar Al-Tahir, Chien Dat Nguyen Dinh, Joshua Sallos and Garrett Moore are the founders of Queue, an early stage startup based out of Fredericton. The company was born out of the New Brunswick Startup Weekend event last February, which had a theme of social impact.

“We did our marketing research and we spoke to a lot of entrepreneurs that were there to give us advice and we did great. We actually came out second at that event,” says Al-Tahir, who is the Queue’s chief operating officer.

Queue is an in-development platform that allows New Brunswick residents to get information on wait times before choosing a healthcare facility. After checking into their chosen facility, Queue will then allow patients to leave the facility and choose where to wait. A notification, phone call, or text message informs the user when they need to return for treatment. The platform is for those seeking treatment for non-urgent issues.

“Queue is a mobile wait time concierge that allows you to spend your time waiting for emergency room services where and how you’d like to,” says Sallos, the company’s chief commercial officer.

A mockup of Queue’s mobile applications. (Image: Submitted)

“If you have a cold, headache, something non-urgent, you get to see the estimated wait times, go in and get triaged at the facility with the lower wait time, and then you get a ticket number so you can leave and get a notification, a phone call, or an SMS when it’s your time for treatment.”

Initially, the goal is to implement the system in the province’s hospitals and walk-in clinics, with the possibility of expanding to private clinics later on.

Right now, Queue has a working prototype which is using “dummy data.”

“We’re really just in a networking phase right now to figure how we can use those platforms to integrate them with the systems that Horizon and Vitalité are using,” says Sallos. “It’s a logistics point that we are on, but we do have the prototypes for proof of concept.”

The founders say they have been working with representatives from Horizon Health Network to discuss Queue’s implementation. So far, the concept has received positive feedback, the biggest challenge is figuring out how to integrate with the system of each hospital.

“Everybody seems to love it and they do realize that this is an issue that needs to be solved in New Brunswick. We realized there are lots of hurdles that we have to get through, such as the different hospitals have different technology systems. Then we’ll store data and collect data in a different way, which we would have to adapt to. But otherwise, they seem to really like it and they would like to know how we get along.”- Al Tahir.

The next step for the company is to get real data from a New Brunswick hospital to pilot the platform’s technology.

A screenshot of Queue’s online platform. (Image: Submitted)

“It would be great to get proper data from at least one hospital in New Brunswick just so that we can have a pilot system going through and be able to test our platform at that hospital so we can get initial results, figure out what features and bugs we have to fix and see what the benefits are and promote that,” says Al-Tahir.

If it finally does come to the market, it will be marketed as a software-as-a-service. Al-Tahir says Queue would not just have a positive impact on patients, but on healthcare workers too.

“With the patients, there are many times they would not go to the hospital because they know there is going to be a long wait time and that’s not great for them. There other times where they would go and they would have to take the day off and they’re staying in the hospital and they don’t know how long it’s going to be, so they can’t really plan their day,” she says.

“With the healthcare specialists, they are also very stressed out when they have many people just sitting there in the waiting rooms. We spoke to some nurses at the desk – and it was very busy that day – we spoke to them and they said ‘this is not even the worst of it.’ They were just running around and they didn’t have time to speak to people. Just to be able to spread the load across healthcare in New Brunswick, I think that will help the nurses as well.”