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Online Tool Takes the 'Wait' Out of Waiting Rooms

Cynthia Johnson for HealthLeaders Media, December 27, 2010

Medical specialties serving tech-savvy patients
Some hospitals are implementing the service by department, whereas others are implementing it throughout the facility in order to provide patients with several options for care. For example, someone with an ankle injury can go online and view wait times at a health center's emergency room, urgent care center, and specialist offices.

"Hospital systems like it because they can display all their options and patients can determine which choice fits best given their schedule," Mehta says.

According to Mehta, the tool would work well in any medical specialty where there's a chance of significant delays. For example, it is popular with many high-traffic specialties, especially those that have unpredictable schedule and volume changes, such as OB/GYN offices and walk-in mammography centers like The Rose Breast Center.

Rose Medical Center plans to roll out the service for exams performed at another outpatient facility and the main hospital. "It definitely fits into the outpatient arena—cardiac tests, pulmonary tests, physical therapy," says Liggett. "The physicians are very excited about it. A lot of them are interested in getting it for their offices."

Mehta believes the tool also has the potential to control the spread of viruses, such as the flu. For example, even though a pediatric office may have a well child area and a sick child area, diseases can still spread during the time a child is waiting to be seen.

"The less time you spend in the waiting room is better for everybody," he says.

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1 comments on "Online Tool Takes the 'Wait' Out of Waiting Rooms"


rcirillo (1/6/2011 at 1:42 PM)
Great idea & 1st step, but too many important pieces missing in this satisfaction issue. I don't think the "reason" for their lateness is important as much as what options patients have when the providers are habitually that far behind. What happens with the patient's notification? Are patients allowed to email back that they want to reschedule and have reasonable options? Are patients allowed to show up an hour or two later and be seen right away, or are people who were scheduled 'after' them (incl those walk-ins) keep bumping them...meaning does this become the same old "1st come 1st served" scenario which brings everybody back to wait wait wait, or you will miss your turn.