10/10/2012 05:27 EDT | Updated 12/10/2012 05:12 EST

Getting patients out of hallways: computers track hospital beds in Saskatchewan

REGINA - Hospitals in Regina and Saskatoon are hoping that tracking beds electronically will result in fewer patients being treated in hallways.

A computer program shows each bed and whether it's being used, cleaned or is open.

Staff will be able to see in real time when a bed is open rather than having to call back and forth to see if a bed is ready.

Dawn Calder with the Regina Qu'appelle Health Region says having a digital readout of what beds are available in each ward should help ease hallway congestion.

In Regina, hospitals regularly go through stretches of time when they are over 100 per cent capacity and patients are sometimes treated in crowded hallways.

The program is costing the province $2.5 million and there's also a $500,000 fee every year to license the program with the U.S. software developer.

“This can translate into, on any given day, more available beds for us to use for patients,” Calder said. “Does that save money? No, but the idea is that it reduces the length of time those patients have to wait.”

Calder suggested the system will help ensure a higher turnover rate because once a patient is discharged the bed will be cleaned up and immediately made available.

“We want to make sure that we’re moving those patients through quickly and that we don’t have any wasted beds."