01/22/2014 07:38 EST | Updated 03/24/2014 05:59 EDT

New technology aims to empty wait rooms at doctors' offices

Patients who are sick and tired of sitting in waiting rooms at doctors' offices may have the option of going home or running errands as they wait for a doctor.

A new system called ChronoMetriq, which already operates in 20 clinics in Montreal, has been launched at Clinique medicale de Touraine in Gatineau, Que.

Once a patient registers at a clinic, he or she takes a number and goes to a touch-screen kiosk. The patient would then pay $3 in Quebec, or $4 in Ontario, to be contacted via call or text message when a doctor is ready to be seen.

ChronoMetriq is advertised as a way to eliminate packed waiting rooms, which can spread germs. It is now negotiating with clinics in Ottawa and Toronto to introduce it, but the company hasn’t received a green light from the Ontario Ministry of Health.

Patients and doctors at the Gatineau clinic said they were big fans, but one patient advocate said it is not fixing the wait-time problem in Ontario.

“So someone’s figured out how to make a buck helping you feel less bad having to wait, but it doesn’t do anything to improve access to care,” said Marlene Riviere, president of the Ontario Health Coalition.

So far, the company said half of patients in Montreal and Gatineau have chosen to use the Chrono-Metriq system.

Company spokesman Louis Parent said he would like to introduce the program in hospital emergency rooms, which would start in Montreal in a year of two.