Using real-time data to empower consumers

Consumers need access to quality, up-to-date information to make an informed choice regarding their urgent healthcare needs.

With this in mind, MSH could create a smartphone app that gives consumers access to real-time data about our emergency departments—alongside information on ED alternatives and live traffic data tailored to their location.

In one easy-to-understand screen, the app could show consumers:

  • Live waiting times and numbers of patients waiting to be seen at each emergency department
  • Live alternative options such as GPs, pharmacies and urgent care centres that are open “now” (including bulk billing options)
  • Live traffic information to determine the estimated driving time to each emergency department / GP / pharmacy.

Utilising a smartphone’s inbuilt GPS, the live information could be tailored to the consumer's exact location.

All the data described above is freely available to MSH using existing datasets and APIs.

If the consumer makes the decision to go to the emergency department, they could click through to see further information about the chosen ED, including:

  • address and parking/access information
  • driving directions (integrated with Google Maps)
  • continued live updates on waiting times / numbers of patients in the ED (providing context/education on why the person may have to wait longer for less urgent conditions)
  • “how the ED works” – i.e. information about the triage system.

The app could include the ability to easily dial 000 in case of an emergency of 13 HEALTH if the consumer is unsure.

This initiative could be developed in partnership with the Brisbane South PHN and Queensland Ambulance Service.

See the existing app “ACT Health” for a fantastic example.

Why the contribution is important

  • As a Digital Health Service, MSH has a wealth of real-time data available. With around 90% of Australians owning a smartphone (source:, MSH has an opportunity to exploit this freely available data, as well as the native functionality in smartphones, to inform consumer choice.
  • In the marketing world, the concept of "customer decision journey" has drastically changed in the past 10 years with the advent of smartphones. Consumers now spend mcuh more time "researching" options on the internet/social media before committing to a purchase decision (source: The same concept could be applied to healthcare decisions.
  • Literature shows that consumers who have access to waiting time and driving distance information use this to make more informed choices for their urgent care needs (sources: Xie and Youash, International Journal of Emergency Medicine, 2011, 4:29; Schiro et al, Digital Healthcare Empowering Europeans, 2015, 663; Shaikh et al, The Journal of Emergency Medicine, 2013, 44:1).
  • This initiative would support Planetree component 3, “Providing patients with information and educational resources so they can actively participate in their own care”.

by aaroncameron on August 12, 2019 at 07:46AM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.7
Based on: 14 votes


  • Posted by aaroncameron August 12, 2019 at 10:46

    Here is an article from New Zealand showing a similar app has reduced presentations by 12 per cent: https://www.pulseitmagazine[…]-emergency-q-as-ed-fills-up
  • Posted by mcrice August 12, 2019 at 16:27

    Considering a similar if not exactly the same problem: A smartphone app showing waiting times to be seen in elective outpatient clinics (and then the wait for procedures, if needed) would be great as well. That could help a proportion of patients to choose whether to self-fund private sector care for elective needs. And potentially easier - since "real-time" in that setting could be measured in days and weeks rather than minutes and hours for ED
  • Posted by anonIs August 12, 2019 at 21:16

    In this present world, smart phones are becoming an extension of ourselves. According to a 2013-2017 world wide market estimate, approximately half a billion smart phone owners use a health or wellness app and these figures are expected to triple over the next three years. A smart phone app will allow the public to access comprehensive information regarding medical suggestions, wait times and other avenues as this idea has suggested. An application like this, will enable people to make informed decisions regarding their urgent health needs at the swipe of their fingers. This app would be an efficient, effective and low cost tool to reduce inappropriate ED admissions and should be implemented by Metro South, especially as a digital health service.

  • Posted by EmmaV August 13, 2019 at 08:50

    MSH has already done some great work in this space by developing a multiplatform solution that gives consumers up to date information and alternatives for urgent/emergency care.
    It is called ED Live.
    This platform would be a great engagement opportunity as well as to help improve health literacy and hospital avoidance.

    The rollout needs to be put back on the agenda and needs to be driven by our top execs
    Many sites around the state were keen to implement the same initiative but MSH can lead the way.
  • Posted by cdnurse August 16, 2019 at 13:42

    The Virtual Hospital: to manage the most common preventable ED presentations/admissions for the complex patients with the most common chronic conditions - based in a community health environment.
  • Posted by garrada August 20, 2019 at 08:16

    Perhaps incorporate a chat function for early triage and guidance on where to seek appropriate health care
  • Posted by NSkerm August 21, 2019 at 11:16

    Consumer involvement in driving decisions for their care will be how we transform health care. This is a great idea and should be available in a number of languages, and accessible to those with disabilities.
Log in or register to add comments and rate ideas

Idea topics