Background, key messages, goals and partners.

This education campaign aims to improve public understanding of available health care options and the importance of attempting to see their own GP before seeking care in the Emergency Department. Over time, it is intended to reduce inappropriate use of the ER.

This site for Divisions of Family Practice and partner hospitals provides background on the pilot initiative, recommendations for creating a new campaign, and tools to be tailored for each community.

Campaign Partners

Dr. Neil Barclay
Regional  Medical Director, Emergency Medicine
Fraser Health 

Dr. Grace Park
Regional Medical Director, Home Health, Fraser Health
Member, Division of Family Practice, White Rock South Surrey

Dr. John Hamilton
Regional Medical Director, Primary Care and Aboriginal Health, Fraser Health
Member, Division of Family Practice, Chilliwack
Co-Chair, Interdivisional Committee, Fraser Health

Dr. Dan Husband
Lead physician, Abbotsford Division of Family Practice
Co-Chair, Interdivisional Committee, Fraser Health

Nancy Mathias
Executive Director, White Rock South Surrey Division of Family Practice

Campaign FAQs

  • Where was the pilot launched?

    The pilot campaign was initiated by the White-Rock South Surrey Division of Family Practice and Fraser Health in 2014/15. It is their experience upon which recommendations for spreading the campaign are based. 

  • Why was the campaign launched?

    The Division and Fraser Health knew some patients were using the ER unnecessarily for non-urgent care.

    Evidence supports that:

    • ER use for non-urgent health problems is associated with greater fragmentation and discontinuity of care with the patient’s primary care providers (Carrier et al, 2011).
    • People who receive care from primary care physicians are healthier (Starfield et al, 2005).
    • Inability to obtain timely access to the family physician was associated with non-urgent ER use (Field & Lantz, 2006).
    • Patient education on health care options is associated with a shift in non-urgent emergency department visits to primary care with appropriate community capacity in place (Morgan et al, 2013).
  • What was the goal of the pilot campaign?

    The campaign aimed to strengthen the connection between patients and primary care providers and to maximize the use of community-based services, thereby reducing the reliance on the hospital emergency room for non-urgent care.

  • What are the key messages of the campaign?

    For any health concern call your family doctor first. Your family doctor knows you and your medical history. Same-day urgent appointments may be available.

    If your family doctor is not available check for walk-in clinic wait times and hours. Request that a copy of the visit be sent to your family doctor.

    For trusted health advice call 8-1-1, HealthLinkBC, available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. Speak with a representative who will help you find health information and services, or connect you with a nurse for health advice, a dietitian for nutrition information or a pharmacist for medication advice.

    For an urgent medication refill speak with your pharmacist. Your pharmacist may be able to provide an emergency refill of your prescription, including medications for chronic conditions. Contact your pharmacist for minor issues that might be managed with over-the-counter medications.

    For a mental health concern call the Fraser Health Crisis Line 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. 604-951-8855.

    For critical or life-threatening conditions call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room. Hospital emergency rooms are not the place to go for common illnesses or minor injuries.

  • What is Medimap? is a free online website in which 

    • Walk-in clinics (and GP offices with a walk-in component) update Medimap with their estimated wait time.
    • Patients search for walk-in clinics by city or by clicking "use my location" to find the nearest clinics.
    • Walk-in clinics are displayed in order of wait time, so patients can get the most immediate access to care when their GP is not available. helps patients find:

    • Current estimated wait times at nearby walk-in clinics.
    • Up-to-date clinic operating hours.
    • Whether the clinic is still accepting patients for the day. helps clinics:

    • Improve the patient experience by setting their expectations in advance.
    • Free up staff time by reducing the number of calls about wait times.
    • Defer patient visits when the clinic is too busy and attract patients when there are doctors available.
    • Identify wait time trends for staffing efficiency.

    Register your clinic to get started today. For further information, contact:

    Medimap Systems Inc. 
    Vancouver, B.C.
    (604) 812-1821

    News articles about Medimap

  • What materials were used in the campaign?

    Posters, rack cards, ‘Closed’ signs, after-hours phone scripts, staff information guides. Get the materials on our website.

    Posters were distributed throughout the community in public places, and throughout Peace Arch Hospital in the ER and in nursing units, medical imaging, lab services, etc.

  • What percentage of ER visits in each community are non-urgent?

    ER visits by Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) level are summarized below. The campaign aim is to reduce CTAS level 4 (semi-urgent) and level 5 (non-urgent) visits.

    Emergency visits by urgency and volume in Fraser Health hospitals.

  • What background research was done before the pilot was launched?

    The campaign involved collaborating with multiple partners, including: GP offices, walk-in clinics, developers, Peace Arch Hospital emergency department, Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation, HealthLink BC (8-1-1), the College of BC Pharmacists, the Municipality of White Rock, community centres, libraries, and Peace Arch News. 

    The White Rock / South Surrey Division undertook extensive research of the public’s use of the Peace Arch Hospital ER. The Fraser Health Practice Support Program spoke to most GPs before launching the pilot, and walk-in clinics were also widely consulted.

    Local media covered the launch of the campaign and Fraser Health Communications also launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of the issue of inappropriate use of the ER across the region. That campaign, now called #usetheERwisely, is ongoing.

  • Was the first campaign a success?

    The pilot campaign achieved a significant reduction in low acuity visits (CTAS 4&5) to the local emergency department at Peace Arch Hospital ranging between -3.5% to -8.2% since the launch. GPs in the community indicate anecdotally that requests for same-day appointments are increasing.

    Peace Arch ER Visits by CTAS score.

Help promote the campaign

Learn about how you can help spread the message.

Get your campaign materials

View and order materials to promote the campaign.