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Digital service cuts down on ER waiting time
07.23.2012At best, overcrowding in emergency rooms (ERs) can lead to frustrated sick people. At worst, it can result in emergency treatments not being administered in time. Urgent care facilities have proven effective at absorbing some hospitals' patient load, ensuring more efficiency. But a Nashville company applies the same method to emergency care that some restaurants use with pagers that let customers know when a table is available.
According to statistics assembled by U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2009, the national average ER wait time for immediate care was 28 minutes. The organization recommends one minute or less for serious, life-threatening injuries. The numbers weren't much more encouraging for "emergent" and "urgent" cases at ERs. People with emergent ailments who the office says shouldn't wait more than 14 minutes sat for almost 40 minutes on average. Patients with an "urgent" medical problem, on average, waited for close to an hour.
The Contra Costa Times, a newspaper based in Walnut Creek, California, reports that some hospitals have gotten their overcrowding closer to under control with the "InQuicker" online service.
InQuicker allows patients to "check in" to participating hospitals online, and sends notifications when physicians are available to treat them. Not unlike many pizza delivery services, if you arrive at the hospital and have to wait more than 15 minutes, your place-holding fee gets refunded. The place-holding fee ranges from $9.99 to $24.99. The article emphasized that anyone requiring immediate medical attention, a heart attack patient for example, should immediately dial 911 and not bother reserving a place in line.
An InQuicker spokesman quoted by the news source claimed that 78 percent of patients who use InQuicker wait less than 15 minutes, as opposed to the 18 percent of patients who wait at ERs in the traditional way.
A recent study by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics shows that, in 2012, total spending … more
A new system in Toronto provides an example of emergency department solutions.