Lakeridge Health and Durham College project applies artificial intelligence to predict emergency department wait times

Durham Colllege logo from Media ReleaseLakeridge health logo from media release

Helping people make informed decisions when seeking urgent care

Durham Region – A new partnership between Lakeridge Health and Durham College’s (DC) Hub for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence for Business Solutions (the AI Hub) will test the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to predict how long an individual will wait in the emergency department (ED), improving decision making and the patient’s experience in the ED.

The 40-week project, led by DC faculty researcher Amit Maraj and a team of four research assistants from the Computer Programmer Analyst program, will result in a prototype for an AI-infused recommender system. If successful, this system would make individual wait-time predictions for ED visits based on the person’s condition, what ED they are visiting and the time of day and year. The predictions would also take into account a person’s individual health status and other factors, including staffing, the number of people waiting for care and the urgency of everyone’s needs.

“People waiting in the emergency department often feel frustration and anxiety because they don’t know how long they will be there or what to expect,” said Dr. Ilan Lenga, chief information officer and chief medical information officer of Lakeridge Health. “We are pleased to be able to harness the ingenuity of the students and faculty at Durham College to develop a system that will benefit the community and improve people’s experiences in the emergency departments.”

The program team will look at a set of actual, anonymized patient data from the past to build a system – using machine learning – that can predict with a high degree of accuracy their wait time given everything that was happening in the ED at the time that they visited.

“We are excited about this opportunity to collaborate with Lakeridge Health to optimize the use of our health-care system’s resources using artificial intelligence,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “The work we are doing in this project has the potential to be tremendously helpful for patients while showcasing the real-world application of AI in a health-care setting in a way that will positively impact the system as a whole.”

Personalized predictions are important because emergency departments must treat the most urgent patients first, and do not operate on a “first-come, first-served” basis.

About Lakeridge Health

Lakeridge Health is Durham Region’s acute health care provider. With five hospitals, four emergency departments, a residential treatment centre and more than a dozen community health care locations, the new Lakeridge Health is working to provide the best experience for patients and their families. Home to the R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre and Pinewood Centre, Lakeridge Health also provides regional mental health, eye care and nephrology services.

With a committed and dedicated team of more than 5,400 employees, more than 760 physicians and more than 1,600 volunteers, Lakeridge Health provides care to the more than 650,000 people living and working in Durham Region.

About Durham College

At Durham College (DC), the student experience comes first. With campuses in Oshawa and Whitby and a learning site in Pickering, the college offers more than 13,600 full-time post-secondary and apprenticeship students access to more than 140 full-time and eight apprenticeship programs in a number of different disciplines, enabling them to develop the skills required to meet the demands of today’s job market. The college has also launched its first four-year degree program, the Honours Bachelor of Health Care Technology Management, in September 2018.

For more information, visit or call 905.721.2000.


For more information, please contact:

Lindsay Cochrane
Lakeridge Health Strategic Communications

Shelly Kowalski
Communications and Marketing
905.721.2000 ext. 6219