E-Tools Update ER Wait Times

Monday, November 29th, 2010
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

ER wait times: is there an app for that? If not, there soon will be. A group of nine Texas hospitals uses digital tools, including a planned iPhone app, to update average ER wait times — a tactic profiled in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update. The hope is that patients with non-life-threatening conditions will review the average waits at local ERs and decide which ER to use.

It’s a great idea, but one that could be taken a step further. Why not link to a health advice line so patients could determine the most appropriate venue for care, which may be the ER but could also be an urgent care center or next-day physician visit? Nurse advice lines such as the one operated by Optima Health are helping to reduce avoidable ER use and rehospitalizations, according to Patricia Curtis, Optima’s director of operations, clinical care services, while boosting patient and physician satisfaction scores. Stay tuned. We’ll have an interview with Ms. Curtis in next week’s issue, or follow us on Twitter to access the interview as soon as it ‘s available.

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