New Trend: Online ER Wait Times, Are They Worth It?

One of the biggest annoyances of having to go to the ER is their long wait times.

Though they vary nationally, the average wait time in Arizona is roughly 4 hours to be seen by an emergency physician. What if this didn’t have to be the case?

Many large health care networks are adopting products that will allow them to interface their website directly with their Electronic Medical Record to display ER wait times and schedule patient visits on their website.

Is it really worth it? Who wants to take the time to go online before rushing to the Emergency Room? As it turns out, 4 out of 5 patients report they’d use it. The payoff for providers is substantial too. Take a look at these stats: on average new patient volume up 49%, 25-35% increase in commercial managed care, 65% drop in patients leaving without begin seen, and this is just hospitals. Urgent Cares, and private Physician practices are seeing huge returns as well.

The reason this model works is not because people hate waiting (even though we do), it’s because people hate waiting at the provider’s office. In these times where everyone has too much going on, they would simply rather do other things while they’re waiting (injury permitting). Not only that, what if you were lucky enough to be within 20 minutes of several hospitals? Wouldn’t it be nice to see which could treat you quicker? After all, 5 minutes of diligence could save you hours.

As I mentioned, this is a 2 part trend. In addition to seeing how long they’ll spend in a waiting room or who has the shortest wait, patients can also schedule an appointment; sometimes with the provider of their choosing. Need an outpatient procedure? Now it can be scheduled on your own time so you can make the most of your time. This process helps providers make the best use of their time and staff as well.

Keep in mind, this isn’t a one size fits all scenario. Critical incidents will need to be treated accordingly. However, this looks to be a step in the right direction for those other times when it’s not critically urgent, but 4 hours is just way too long.

Patients visit the InQuicker landing page on a hospital’s website, setup their profile and can virtually check themselves in. If the projected wait time changes, they can optionally be notified of that as well. This is a win/win as the patient knows in real-time and the hospital can keep tabs on expected visits.

As of this writing, one product claims to have save patients approximately 6,004,061 minutes of wait time.

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Synergy HealthCare Technologies is a premier system, solutions and technical services consulting company with over 25 years experience in the healthcare industry.

Synergy was founded with the vision to help healthcare organizations work more efficiently and help bring physicians closer to their patients through the use of technology. Technologies are always evolving and we feel healthcare should too. We have helped organizations achieve Meaningful Use, implement new Electronic Medical Record systems (EMR/EHR), streamlined billing processes and increased client revenue just to name a few ways we’ve made healthcare better through technology.

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