Save a headache, book it online 

How a PEI tech company made booking lab tests much easier 

“I feel like you could say this about almost every facet of health care, but the pandemic really did change everything for us,” said Brian Timmons, provincial director of Medical Laboratory Services at Health PEI. 

“We operate six sites across the province for specimen collection, be it bloodwork or tissue collection,” explained Timmons. “Historically, all those sites but one operated on a walk-in basis. If your primary care provider asked for a sample, you’d take your form with you to one of these sites at any time and they’d accommodate you.” 

For the busiest lab in the province at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), it could mean 120 patients or more calling or dropping in every day. 

“When COVID-19 hit, that just wasn’t possible,” said Timmons. “We immediately switched to an appointment-based system, which led to a lot of frustrations for patients. People would call 10 to 20 times and still not be able to get through because of the volume of calls. Physicians’ offices had the same problems calling in referrals. We needed to find a better way.” 

Health PEI partners with the CAN Health Network, which helps health organizations find solutions to challenges with products and services offered by regional businesses. 

“Health PEI already had success with a PEI-based company called Skip the Waiting Room, as they had created the system we used for booking COVID-19 tests. Islanders were already familiar and comfortable with the service, so it made a lot of sense to apply it to booking lab tests.”

     – Brian Timmons, provincial director of Medical Laboratory Services

Skip the Waiting Room was phased in for lab tests starting with the QEH, as it was the busiest location in the province. The results were better than expected. 

“We did surveys of all the groups involved, and they all exceeded our expectations,” said Timmons. “Seventy-five percent of patients said they were either satisfied or extremely satisfied with the service. Ninety-five percent said it was efficient and easy to use. Call volumes to the lab decreased by 55 percent, which meant staff were less stressed. Physicians’ offices were very satisfied with it because it saved them the hassle of having to call in every referral.” 

Timmons’ team liked the flexibility of the service, as they realized each location required different levels of service. 

“Some patients of our rural hospitals prefer a more human connection,” said Timmons. “They’re more likely to want to speak with someone on the phone to book their appointment. That’s important for us to know. What works in Charlottetown might not be the right option for Souris. We can be flexible.” 

To book an appointment for blood or specimen collection online or by phone, visit Health PEI’s Laboratory Services

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Published date: 
May 1, 2023
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