A Quebec man, tired of wasting hours at medical clinics waiting for appointments, has developed a novel idea of making the wait tolerable.

Pierre LaFrance came up with the idea after yet another lengthy wait before his children could see a doctor.

His children have severe allergies, and so frequent doctor's visits are a fact of life.

"Once my kids said 'Why can't we wait at home? I want to play with my toys,'" said LaFrance, and the plan was born.

LaFrance worked with several friends to develop software that lets patients monitor wait times over the phone.

Their company, TechnoWait, then approached phone companies and the director of the Fabreville health clinic, Marc Chabot to put their plan into action.

"I see it as an added value service," said Chabot.

Patients register for a visit, take a number, and then call it regularly to find out how much longer they will have to wait.

The pilot project began six months ago at Polyclinique Fabreville in Laval.

The clinic still has its average two-to-three hour wait, but patients can be anywhere in reach of a phone.

"I saved two hours," said Charline Paquin. "Instead of waiting here, I went to work."

By calling into the TechnoWait voicemail, an automated message tells them how many people are ahead of them, and how fast the queue is moving.

"People can go back to work, go home to rest when they're sick, so I found that a good idea," said Chabot.

The next step is a phone alert, so that instead of checking in, people will get a phone call half-an-hour before their appointment comes up.

Right now the service is free, but it will eventually cost $3, and TechnoWait hopes it will soon be implemented at walk-in clinics and hospitals.