Writing for HealthLeaders Media, Cheryl Clark looked at the growing number of hospitals that are posting their emergency room wait times online.
Clark describes the practice as a “marketing strategy” that may help hospitals snag market share and improve the patient experience, and quotes physicians calling it a “gimmick” that may actually hurt patients by encouraging them to delay ER visits until the line gets shorter. Clark also spotlights a more disturbing version of the system, one which allows patients to pay online to reserve a spot at the head of the ER waiting line.
Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, Ore., uses a system of infrared tags to monitor ER wait times and post them online.
(Another system) allows patients to buy, for $24.99, the ability to register online for a place at the head of the emergency room wait line at participating hospitals. The concept, called InQuickER—”Skip the ER Waiting Room”—was developed three years ago as a customer service program.
The patient prints out a confirmation number with instructions for what time to be at the hospital so they don’t have to wait.
So far, three hospitals have signed up: Emory-Adventist Hospital in Smyrna, GA, Florida Hospital Waterman in Tavares, FL, and Infirmary West in Mobile, AL.