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Windsor-made app provides information on nearby clinics

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Published by | January 25, 2017

Patients who need care but don’t require emergency room services can now find clinics in the area by using a Windsor-made mobile app.

Clinic Seeker, which launched last week for Apple and Android systems, gives users a list and a map of nearby medical centres with wait times reported by others.

Company CEO and founder Lisa Jacobs said she decided to pursue this service after fracturing her thumb in Toronto. She waited “for hours” in a hospital emergency room because she didn’t know where to find a clinic with x-ray services.

Jacobs’ mother also runs a clinic in Windsor which lost its x-ray due to low patient volume.

“I could never figure out why a clinic down the street on the main road was always so busy and my mom’s clinic was completely empty,” she said. “It was a combination of those two scenarios that made me create this in a sense of helping people find the best health facility that would suit their needs.”

The app is also meant to alleviate strains on emergency departments, said Jacobs. Over the past two weeks, Windsor Regional Hospital’s two EDs have been over capacity and several surgeries were cancelled because the beds were needed.

Steve Erwin, manager of corporate communications for the hospital, said the app could be useful to help patients avoid EDs if they don’t need that level of care.

“It’s more for that level of patients where they’re concerned about (their condition) – otherwise they wouldn’t be in the hospital in the first place – but it’s not a life or limb situation,” said Erwin. “It gives them an option to find somewhere to go.”

The hospital has posted a link to Clinic Seeker on its website and the hospital’s CEO has recommended using it in memos sent out regarding capacity issues.

As of Wednesday morning, the Metropolitan Campus was at 105 per cent capacity while the Ouellette Campus was experiencing 106 per cent capacity. In total, three surgeries were cancelled for the day.

Windsor Regional saw over 130,000 patients between its two emergency departments from April 2015 to May 2016. Jacobs also found a report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information which stated one in five emergency patients don’t belong in an emergency room.

“Just Windsor-Essex County alone, that’s 26,000 patients a year that don’t belong in an emergency room and that number actually breaks down to 75 people a day,” she said. “If 75 people a day can actually be seen in another healthcare facility other than the emergency room, that would, I think to me, definitely pull the strain off of ER.”

The app depends on crowd-sourcing to determine the wait times at clinics or urgent care centres. Patients who visit a clinic can later input how long they waited to see a doctor, which will be visible to other users.

Currently the app contains information across Ontario, but Jacobs said she hopes she can expand it to other parts of Canada.

She said she thinks parents with young children, travelling sports teams and individuals who regularly visit different areas of the province for work might find it most useful.