Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hospitals Offer Wait Time Online and Via Text Messages

Patients Can See Emergency Room Wait Times From Home

POSTED: Friday, May 29, 2009
source: Click Orlando

A local hospital is offering a new program to let emergency room patients know how long the wait is before they get there.

Local HCA hospitals, like Central Florida Regional, Ocala, West Marion and Osceola, will offer their exact emergency room wait times on their Web sites.

"It’s all about time, especially in times of emergency and when you have to come to the emergency room, but now, thanks to new technology, you'll know what you're getting into before you ever wind up here," Florida Regional Hospital CEO Wendy Brandon said.

The service will help people with minor problems, like Julie Sumek, decide when to go to the emergency room.

"Years ago I was at a hospital where the wait was almost eight hours and that was something minor, and this has been great; I was in right away and I'm feeling much better than I had," Sumek said.

Brandon said wait times are important to the hospital's patients.

"The emergency department patients overwhelmingly tell us that what satisfies them is seeing a physician quickly and sometimes that even rates over getting an accurate diagnosis, believe it or not. We are very focused on diagnosis, but we heard that over and over again," Brandon said.

The software works by logging each patient individually, tracking him or her and updating every 30 minutes.

"If I think about it, I would use the Web site first," Sumek said.

Patients can also text 23000 with the word ER in the text body to find out the wait time from their cell phone. The service will prompt users for their zip code and respond with the wait time

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