The fifth annual Geek Fest was held last Wedenesday night at the Ontario Science Centre’s subterranean “Hot Zone,” hosted by Canadian IT firm T4G. About 200 sharply dressed geeks gathered to sip wine and throw around words like “automaticity,” before surrounding a stage to watch so-called “supreme geeks” in white lab coats evaluate three elevator pitches, à la Dragon’s Den.
Twenty-seven-year-old Shawn Peterson, a software developer from Saint John, New Brunswick, walked away with the big $10,000 prize (cash provided by T4G).
His genius idea was Q-Time, a software program that analyzes emergency-room wait times to offer hospital staff feedback on their efficiency, while letting patients know how long they can expect to be sitting around (depending on whether they’ve got a shotgun wound or simply at a burrito too quickly).
He was inspired to develop Q-Time after an epically long wait at an ER in New Brunswick. “You can’t understand how tough it is when you’re just sitting there for hours at a time and you have no idea when you’re going to get seen because you’re not part of what’s going on.”
Pilot projects utilizing Q-Time are being discussed in Saint John, and Toronto could be next. But Peterson warns that this demands an open-minded approach to hospital management—staff can’t be scared off by having their embarrassingly long wait times made public.
After the prize went to Q-Time (runners-up included a virtual office lobby assistant and a website that connects charities with volunteers), Peterson was asked what he would do with the $10,000. He reiterated the fact that it was a personal prize.
“I mean, you can go buy M&Ms with it, if you want,” he said. “I haven’t talked to my wife or anything yet, but I imagine we’ll probably just pay down our debt.”
I was there pitching my “ER wait times” idea called QTime.
Visit the links below to listen to each interview:
I’d love to hear what you think!
You can watch the news clip by clicking on the image below (via CTV news):
I’d love to hear what you think!
Paul is the VP of Research at T4G Limited where I work.
Passion seems to be a common ingredient in geeks. As my boss, Geoff Flood, likes to say: “We really do believe, naively or not, that we can change the world.”
At Geekfest, there were dozens of techies with cool ideas all vying for Top Geek with their working technology applications to help change the world, even if only incrementally at the start.
The winner (and recipient of $10,000 first prize) was Shawn Peterson with his App called Q-Time that crunches hard data and then electronically posts wait times in hospital emergency rooms. Not only does it tell anxious patients when they will get in to see a physician, but it also alerts healthcare professionals early to possible problems that can be addressed in terms of staffing, and other resources.
In his research, Peterson, a geek from Saint John, N.B., surveyed patients online and talked to healthcare professionals in person. He found that wait times were not the real culprit. “It’s not knowing what the wait times are that’s the real problem,” he says.
What surprises me about Shawn’s Q-Time is that with the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on healthcare in Canada alone, why did no one came up with this before? After all, at any airport we can see planes’ departure and arrival times. So why in emergency rooms can’t something similar be available for patients and their families?
Shawn has taken real data in real time to create real value for society.
Check out the full article here: Step Back Jocks. Geeks are the New Cool.
A dream gadget for those who spend a lot of time in emergency rooms was the toast of a gathering of geeks in Toronto this week.
Saint John’s Shawn Peterson won first prize, and $10,000, at GeekFest, T4G Ltd.’s self described annual showcase of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurialism. The event includes a cocktail reception, a casual trade show and an ideas competition that takes its inspiration from CBC’s Dragons’ Den as well as a keynote presentation, this year by Neal Bascomb, author of The New Cool .
While all entrants – there are about 50 to begin with – are T4G employees, the ideas they present must be ones they’ve developed on their own time.
“I was spending all my spare time on this,” said Peterson, 27, who graduated from Simonds High School and then studied computing at the New Brunswick Community College in Saint John before joining T4G in 2005.
His winning project gives patients an idea of how long they will have to wait in emergency rooms, according to the nature of their injury. The system can be used on a computer or a mobile device. But to prove his concept, he needed buy-in from a hospital, something he managed to secure from the Saint John Regional for a period of about a month, in advance of the competition.
“The administration believed in it and were willing to give us data,” Peterson said. “Getting that took the bulk of my time.” While the short-term testing went well, he says it will take much longer to convince provincial health authorities to accept the system and give it widespread acceptance. In the meantime, Peterson’s happy with the $10,000 he won and can spend in any way he wishes – likely on his young “teething” daughter.
“It’s awesome, and it was really unexpected,” Peterson said. “I’ve been to GeekFest many times and never made it into the top three. This year I did, and then I won.” Coinciding with the ideas competition at GeekFest was another New Brunswick innovation that was presented at the same event two years ago. It was highlighted because of its successes: It’s now being commercialized and has national contracts with a fast-food chain, a hardware chain and an automotive plant (it won’t name names).
T4G has a customizable web-based service that allows business and institutional customers to monitor and analyze their energy use. The device will allow corporations to reduce their energy use by as much as 20 per cent, claims Mike Carr, managing director of energy to T4G.
“It takes energy management to a new paradigm,” said Carr.”We could be saving companies millions and millions of dollars.” Carr’s progress – from prototype to commercialized product with impressive buy-in already – was lauded at GeekFest as a success story.
“Two years ago, we flew it and then a lot of investment later, we’re into the market,” Carr said. “And we’re unique in the market.” Carr said GeekFest was an opportunity for “diverse teams to get together and demonstrate what we can do – it’s basically science projects.”
Tonight, I will be attending T4G’s Geekfest event in Toronto!
I will be there to show off my idea called QTime. The idea is focused on interfacing with existing hospital systems to help determine estimates wait times by triage level. In addition to the public facing component, QTime would provide staff and administrators with real time metrics and information to help them identify and correct issues before they get out of hand.
I know a lot of you are interested in this idea, but can’t make it here for the event.
If you are one of those people, do not worry – simply visit the link below to see the QTime prototype in action!
Note: The data feed stopped on March 9th; however, I will keep the prototype up for a while for anyone who wants to see it!
Remember to try the link using both your computer and mobile device! The same page will render differently based on your device.
When using your computer, you will see a dashboard website giving current and historical ER information for a specific hospital. A snapshot at the top provides quick access to important metrics (and recent target trends). Waiting room queues and estimates wait times are broken out by triage level. Color coding is used to identify estimated wait times that would exceed targets. Charts showing average wait times for each triage level and actual waits are included at the bottom.
Mobile Device View
When using your mobile device, you will see a mobile optimized website that demonstrates showing estimated wait times for multiple hospitals. The wait times are even broken out by triage level, which would need be explained as part of an educational campaign:
If QTime makes the cut (selected in the top 3), I will have a chance to present to the audience for a chance to win $10,000! Be sure to keep your fingers crossed.
Looking for more information? Check out some of my recent blog posts about QTime:
- T4G Geekfest Focuses on Innovation
- Saint John software may reduce ER frustration
- QTime – A T4G Geekfest 2012 Idea
What do you think about QTime? Leave a comment below!
SAINT JOHN – Shawn Peterson does not guarantee that his new computer program will get you to the head of the emergency room line any faster.
However, Q-Time might at least give you an idea how long you have to wait, the programmer at T4G in Saint John said in an interview Saturday.
It could also provide immediate information allowing managers to take steps to speed things up, he said.
Currently, hospital administrators do not get data on ER wait times until after the fact, Peterson explained. “What’s it matter that wait times were high a month ago? It’s meaningless,” he said.
Peterson, who graduated from Simonds High School in 2002 then studied computer programming at the New Brunswick Community College in Saint John, started with T4G in 2005.
He will enter Q-Time, which he developed over the past several months, in the company’s annual GeekFest competition March 7 in Toronto at the Ontario Science Centre.
The company bills GeekFest as “T4G’s annual showcase of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurialism.”
Employees enter projects they develop on their own time. The winner gets $10,000. T4G might or might not develop the winner into a commercial product.
Peterson approached management at the Saint John Regional Hospital, including chief of staff Dr. John Dornan and head of emergency medicine Dr. Michael Howlett.
“We’re trying to work on proof of concept,” Peterson said. “Let’s see how this thing would actually work at the Saint John Regional Hospital.”
After several months of meeting and talking to people, he worked “about a month” to build it for GeekFest.
“That’s where everyone will be showing off their idea,” Peterson said. “Right now it’s my idea. It’s for the GeekFest.”
T4G employees put forward about 50 ideas which were narrowed to 10 or 12 to take to Toronto where the judges will pick the top three. The audience of probably 200 or 300 people will elect the winner of the $10,000 prize.
“The company is really focused on showing innovation.” Peterson said.
He envisions a program allowing people to check, maybe, a hand-held device for updates on the average wait time for level one, two and three emergency cases without harassing already stressed ER staff.
The program might include a big electronic board on the wall showing how far each number – a number for each waiting patient – is from getting called in to see the doctor.
It would provide insight, for example, if someone with a more serious problem than others seems to jump the queue.
“It’s the people who are kind of on the borderline, ‘Should I wait for my family doctor, or go to the clinic, or go to the ER?’” Peterson said, explaining the educational aspect of Q-Time.
This might make the night go easier for triage nurses bearing the brunt of if-looks-could-kill stares. “A lot of people don’t understand that it’s not first come, first serve,” Peterson said.
Chest pains, a ruptured appendix or gushing blood will always trump a sprained ankle or bad cold. Q-Time would help people understand why they suddenly drop back down the line. “Why is this person ahead of me? I was here first,” he said rhetorically.
“It would more be a service for hospitals that we could provide,” Peterson said. The company selling the program would have to integrate it into the hospital’s “legacy systems.”
“There’s always going to be some work involved integrating with each system,” he said.
With protocols to protect privacy, the program that Peterson envisages would provide periodic updates to the public and hospital managers, collecting as quickly as ER staff punch it in.
He does not see a system allowing a low-priority patient facing a four-hour wait to come back later without losing his or her place in the line.
However, in communities like Saint John and Moncton with two hospitals each, a patient needing medical attention might check which emergency room has the shortest wait times at the moment – or consider going to a clinic or family doctor.
“Really, to me, it’s all about setting expectations,” Peterson said. “The emergency room is not an appointment-type situation.”
As always, I’d love to hear your comments!
Today I had the chance to do an interview about the idea on Information Morning Saint John!
You can listen to the interview here.
Later in the day, a story about my idea hit the CBC.ca website:
Read onward for the Web version:
Local developer will bring product to Toronto “geekfest”
A Saint John software developer is hoping to use hospital data to predict emergency room wait times.
“Q-Time” would pull information from emergency room triage to predict how long it will take to see a doctor.
Shawn Peterson, a developer with T4G, said that a recent hospital survey found patients’ number one frustration with the ER is not waiting, it’s not knowing how long that wait will be.
He said the system could also help with hospitals’ attempts to manage longer waits.
“Maybe it means calling in additional staff to help relieve the load, maybe it’s about doing something different or getting a team together and coming up with a better way to address the issue,” Peterson said.
“Instead of finding out a month later that there were issues on a day, we’re hoping we can try to spot issues up front and deal with them directly. We’re really improving patient care right away.”
Peterson is going to the geekfest conference in Toronto on March 7 to showcase his proposal.
He said he has received interest in the idea from Dr. John Dornan, the chief of staff at the Saint John zone of the Horizon Health Network, and Dr. Michael Howlett, head of Emergency Medicine at Saint John Regional Hospital.
“We are looking at a process that was brought to us by T4G looking at asking a series of questions and issues in our hospital and publishing that to … everybody that works here,” Dornan said in a video posted to T4G’s website on Thursday.
Peterson said he hopes to see the technology in hospitals across the province.
“Being able to say you’re a level three, four, or five priority — here is the estimated wait time in advance — it’ll address some of that anxiety of not knowing,” he said.
Peterson is also the man behind propertize.ca, where users can compare their property tax assessments with their neighbours.
The site contains easy to find data for the entire province.
Don’t forget to check out the video about QTime here!
Imagine utilizing data already collected by hospitals to display (in real-time) estimated wait times for emergency rooms (ER). Imaging knowing estimated wait times at nearby clinics and other alternate options – letting you decide where to go for non-urgent care!
Imagine using this data to assist staff working inside the ER to see issues (and trends) as they begin to occur – not a month later when it’s too late to address. Imagine hospital administrators being able to see what is really happening inside the ER at any given time.
Introducing QTime – one of my T4G Geekfest 2012 idea submissions!
See the demo live at Geekfest. It’s taking place on March 7th at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, ON!
What is Geekfest you ask? GeekFest is T4G’s annual showcase of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurialism. Find out more about the event here: http://geekfest.t4g.com
Interested in attending? Contact me!
Want to help us make this a reality? You can help us collect data to bring to Geekfest by completing this survey: http://goo.gl/Bn9RH