Patients can track wait times on new hospital app






May 12, 2014

Norfolk General will use app to share health care news, alerts more quickly 

Norfolk News

J.P. Antonacci

Hospital patients commonly pass the time in the waiting room on their smartphones. Norfolk General Hospital hopes its new mobile application will help patients put that time to good use.

The app, released May 7, provides breaking health news, real-time updates on emergency department wait times and information about hospital and area health care services.

“Having technology of any kind is going to assist our patients,” said NGH communication specialist Gerry Hamill. “(The app) will make patients more aware, certainly, of wait times, as well as give them more information about other services available in the area.”

The app, developed for iPhone and Android platforms by communications firm Purple Forge, will provide information on the hospital’s various departments, as well as contact information and locations for local doctors, specialists and community health care services.

Users can watch videos or read about NGH’s clinical services, including when to visit and what to expect while there. The app will also include basic information for patients, such as where to have prescriptions filled.

“The application is very simple right now, but it leads to a whole world of possibilities,” Hamill said. “It’s simply another way of servicing people. Hospitals are about patients – servicing the customers. Getting information in their hands is a lot better than not having it.”

Along with hopefully helping to reduce wait times for the approximately 30,000 people who come to emergency every year, Hamill said the app would be particularly useful during a public health crisis.

“One of the biggest applications will be, let’s say there’s an influenza outbreak. That information can get to people who’ve downloaded the app immediately,” he said.

“Smartphones are rapidly emerging at the best way of getting healthcare information into the hands of our patients and the community at large,” agreed Gail Johnson, vice president of patient care at NGH.  

“These mobile apps will allow us to be more proactive in supporting healthy living, be more informative on the services we provide and lastly be more responsive on urgent health matters.”

Purple Forge, which has a history of developing apps for hospitals and public health programs, created the app at no charge to NGH.

To download the free app, visit