HEMET, CA: Physicians for Healthy Hospitals is pleased to announce a new service, ER Express, which allows patients with non-threatening illnesses to go online with our emergency departments and reserve a spot at the emergency department so that they can do their waiting at home.
This service is available at both Hemet and Menifee Valley Medical Centers. "Emergency Room reservations online is an awesome service!" Now, patients at Physicians for Healthy Hospitals will be able to avoid the long wait in the ER and do their waiting at home.
Patients can go to http://www.physiciansforhealthyhospitals.com/ to choose their reservation time. Patients will be able to see what times are available before making a selection and then will be emailed a confirmation. Once it is the patient’s reservation time, they can go to either the Hemet or Menifee hospital location and have little to no wait in the emergency department before being taken to a room for evaluation and triage.
Emergency Department staff still must treat patients based on the severity of their illness or injury. If a patient with a life-threatening condition arrives when the reservation patient does, the time may be delayed. Physicians for Healthy Hospital will do everything they can to see the reservation patient as close to the reserved time as possible.
LAURINBURG: Scotland Memorial Hospital, in partnership with Bioscape Digital & ER Express, has launched a tablet solution to enable patients to give feedback to the hospital, understand their financial options under the Affordable Care Act, and learn more about their health conditions right from the emergency room.
Patients who visit Scotland Memorial’s Emergency Department can now engage in real-time feedback with staff, better understand their health conditions and discharge instructions, request information regarding a primary care provider, sign up for the patient portal, and enjoy games and other content while waiting.
“This innovative tablet-based platform allows us to increase the amount of information available to patients, be responsive to changing patient needs, and provide the best possible patient experience,” said Jennifer Isenhour M.D., an Emergency Center physician at Scotland Memorial Hospital.
For information about Scotland Memorial’s Emergency Center, call Karen Carlisle, RN, Emergency Center director, at 910-291-7705.
Monroe, GA: Clearview Regional Medical Center has recently expanded its online ER Check-in service, which allows patients to reserve their spot in line at the emergency department while waiting in the comfort of their home. The reservation service is free for all patients.
How it Works: Patients with non-life-threatening illnesses go to www.clearviewERnow.com, submit the reservation form, and then get a confirmation ticket emailed to them.
This service is especially helpful for:
• People with children who need to arrange for someone to care for them while at the emergency department;
• Those who are assisting the elderly, who might require more time to get to the hospital;
• Vacationers who aren’t familiar with the area to be able to find a quick and convenient hospital that’s near where they are staying; or,
• For those who might live further away and wish to reserve a place in line while driving to the hospital
Joe Galbreath, the Emergency Department director, commented, “We will always treat patients as fast as possible, and no one needs to makes a reservation to be seen. However, based on the initial pilot program, our patients really appreciate the extra convenience this service offers.” Patients are still treated based on their medical needs, and not based on arrival or reservation times.
One of Clearview Regional’s patients commented, “I wish the other hospitals would do the check-in service. I wish others in Monroe would learn about this so there wouldn’t be a wait for everyone. Checking in online is an awesome service!” Now, patients at Clearview Regional Medical Center will be able to reduce their wait in the ER and do their waiting at home.
TRENTON, N.J.: It is like OpenTable for medical appointments.
No waiting weeks to see a dermatologist. No sitting for hours in the emergency room. No frantic calls to find a family doctor with openings.
Online services such as ZocDoc and InQuicker are enabling patients with non-life-threatening conditions to schedule everything from doctor's office visits to emergency room trips on their laptops and smartphones – much like OpenTable users do with restaurant reservations.
Hospitals and doctors increasingly are subscribing to the services to simplify appointment scheduling for patients who dislike waiting on hold and are comfortable doing everything from shopping to banking online.
With most of the services, booking is as simple as going to a website, entering a zip code and the kind of care needed, and checking available times. Patients can get a doctor appointment within a couple days, even if they're a new patient. And the services say most patients are seen within 15 to 20 minutes of their appointment, and when an ER backs up, patients with reservations are texted to come later.
"I truly believe talking to people on the phone to schedule doctors' appointments will be something of the past very soon," says Natan Edelsburg, a New York resident who has made 10 doctor appointments through one of the biggest online medical appointment booking services, ZocDoc.
Doctors and hospitals are using such services to attract and retain patients as the health care landscape keeps getting more competitive. With the nationwide proliferation of urgent care centers and pharmacy clinics open on nights and weekends, patients have more convenient options than ever before.
The booking websites also are a way for hospitals and doctors to try to please patients at a time when they face new financial incentives to do so. Starting this year, the Affordable Care Act, which requires most Americans to have health insurance, increases or reduces the Medicare payments hospitals receive each year based on patient satisfaction and quality. That can have a significant impact: Medicare, which covers Americans 65 and older and others with disabilities, pays for 43 percent of hospital patients' care. A similar program for doctors starts next year.
"I don't think you can compete in our medical practice marketplace without being a ZocDoc participant," says Dr. Bobby Buka, a New York dermatologist who gets about 15 patients a week from ZocDoc.
The services, which are free for patients but usually charge $200 to $300 per doctor a month, are benefiting from the focus on making scheduling easier for patients.
ER Express, an Atlanta startup, books reservations for more than 150 ERs and urgent care centers in nearly 30 states. It served more than 40,000 patients in 2014, up 300 percent from 2013.
Meanwhile, ZocDoc, which is based in New York, has more than 6 million patients per month making appointments for dentists, family doctors and 40-plus types of specialists in more than 2,000 cities. ZocDoc was started in 2007 by Cyrus Massoumi, who was frustrated trying to get care after his eardrum ruptured during a long flight and he had to wait four days to see an ear specialist.
"We think everyone in America will be booking online eventually," Massoumi says.
InQuicker had a similar origin. It also was founded by someone who had some experience with the hassles of scheduling medical appointments. Tyler Kiley, who'd spent lots of time in ERs growing up because his mom was an ER nurse and his dad a hospital administrator, started it in 2006. He says he'd seen lots of unnecessary waiting, so he created software for online check-ins.
Growth surged after current CEO Mike Brody-Waite joined in 2010, bringing his marketing expertise: InQuicker now serves 224 hospital ERs, 517 doctor practices, 126 urgent care centers, and some other medical providers. The Nashville company scheduled 302,000 appointments in 2014, up more than 80 percent from 2013, and its revenue was $7 million. Revenue is projected to reach $15 million this year, says marketing chief Stacie Pawlicki.
Doctors and hospitals say the services help attract new patients.
At Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital outside Chicago, assistant ER director Dr. Steve Edelstein says ER Express sends about 40 patients a month to his ER and the hospital's nearby Grayslake Emergency Center. A quarter are new patients, and he says those tech-savvy customers "are generally more likely to have credit cards and good insurance" than others.
"It's been nothing but a benefit," Edelstein says.
Jersey City Medical Center and its two urgent care centers rolled out InQuicker two years ago and use grew quickly. Together, they draw roughly 300 patients a month — 70 percent of them new patients — through InQuicker and their own healthstops.com site.
"It's helped a lot with patient satisfaction," says operations chief Kirat Kharode. His ER's average wait to see a doctor is 35 minutes, versus 15 or less with a reservation.
Some patients also like the benefits of booking online. Lauren Toth, 29, made an ER reservation last spring at Jersey City Medical Center when her foot swelled up and red spots covered her leg.
"When I got there, the waiting room was packed. There must have been 50 people there, and they took me in 10 minutes," recalls the Manhattan public relations representative.
Doctors advised rest and ice packs and sent her home for follow-up. Later, a dermatologist diagnosed inflamed blood vessels and prescribed medication.
"This could revolutionize the way emergency care is delivered," Toth says.
LAKE FOREST, ILL.: Northwestern Medicine today launched an online check-in system at the Lake Forest Hospital Emergency Department. Through the online check-in, patients with non-life-threatening illnesses can complete an online form in advance to hold their place in line to be treated at the Emergency Department.
Patients can go to www.lfh.org/express and use the website's online form to hold their place in line to be treated. A confirmation email is then sent to the patient, who can remain in the comfort of his or her home and arrive at the estimated time for treatment. Using the online form to hold a spot is free for all patients.
"Advance online check-in will help streamline the registration process in the Emergency Department," said Michael G. Ankin, MD, FACP, FCCP, chief medical officer and pulmonologist at Lake Forest Hospital. "This is a convenience for patients who need treatment but are not in a trauma situation; they can hold their place in line online from their home or office and have clearer confirmation about when they will be seen."
The advance online check-in works best when non-life threatening conditions are present: flu, fever, and colds; sinus infections and urinary tract infections; strains and sprains; poison ivy, animal and bug bites; and rashes and sunburns. Patients with life-threatening symptoms or major injuries should always go directly to a hospital emergency department without delay.
Lake Forest Hospital's Emergency Department provides responsive, high-quality emergency care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Emergency Department is state-of-the-art and features a private triage station, private patient rooms and a children's playroom. For more information, visit www.lfh.org/emergency.
CULPEPER, VA.: On June 17, Culpeper Regional Hospital (CRH) launches an online reservation system for the Emergency Department (ED) called ER Express. Patients with non-life-threatening illnessess can now reserve a time online to be treated in the Emergency Department.
Patients can go to culpeperhealth.org/erexpress and use the online reservation form to reserve a time to arrive. A confirmation email is sent to the patient, who can remain in the comfort of his/her home and come in at the reserved time for treatment. This service is free for all patients.
"ER Express will help streamline admissions in the CRH ED, so that all patients are treated more quickly", said RN Mindi Bowers, Director of the ED. "ER Express is a convenience for patients who need treatment but are not in a trauma situation; they can schedule online from home and know what time they will be seen in the ED."
Some of conditions that can be treated with a reservation through ER Express are: Flu, fever, and colds; sinus infections and urinary tract infections; strains and sprains; poison ivy, animal and bug bites; and rashes and sunburns. Because our ED staff must treat patients based on severity of illness or injury, your ER Express time is not guaranteed, but you will be seen as close to your designated time as possible.
Patients with major injuries and traumas should always go directly to the Emergency Department without delay.
Hold your place in line and wait in the comfort of your home with ER Express. Visit culpeperhealth.org/erexpress to learn more.
MONROE, GA.: Beginning May 21, Clearview Regional Medical Center will offer a way for patients to hold their place in line at the emergency room from the comfort of their home. This service is called ER Express, and provides patients who do not have life-threatening illness with added convenience.
"The ER Express program improves the patient experience," says Clearview Regional COO Matt Stapleton. "Not only does this program help us get ready for the patient's arrival, but it gives them reasonable expectations walking in the door, and helps us provide patients with an experience different from other hospitals in the area."
What is ER Express
ER Express allows patients with non-life-threatening illnesses to go online and hold their place in line at the emergency room. This service is not an appointment or guarantee of when the patient will be treated, since ERs treat all patients based on medical need, not arrival time. Rather, this program provides a more convenient way for patients to do their waiting.
"This service is aimed at patients who may need to arrange for someone to watch their children or have an elderly relative that needs more time to get here, or live far away and want to let the ER know that they are on their way," comments Eric Deal, MD, Clearview's Emergency Room Medical Director.
Dr. Deal continues, "This service is for non-life-threatening emergencies only. If you are experiencing chest pains, signs of a stroke, or other life-threatening emergency, immediately dial 911."
How It Works
Visit Clearviewregionalmedicalcenter.com/er. You can view the next available time at the emergency room and fill in a short form to check in ahead of your arrival.
The system then sends a confirmation e-mail to you so you know that ER is expecting you. This allows you to remain in the comfort of your home while waiting to be seen instead of waiting in a room full of other sick people.
"In most cases we will be able to see patients who use the ER Express service within about 15 minutes of their scheduled time, but our ER staff must treat patients based on the severity of their illness or injury," says Dr. Deal. "Should a patient with a life-threatening condition arrive when you do, your time may be delayed. We will do everything we can to see you as close to your ER Express time as possible."
ATLANTA, GA. and RICHMOND, VA.: "The ability to address patient feedback in real-time is a critical element in providing the optimal patient experience," said Suzanne Jackson, CEO of John Randolph Medical Center. Through use of the innovative Wellness Express platform, jointly delivered by Bioscape Digital, ER Express and GetInsured, patients who visit HCA Virginia's John Randolph Medical Center Emergency Room can now engage in real-time feedback with staff, better understand their health conditions and discharge instructions, and explore personal health insurance options.
"This innovative tablet-based platform allows us to increase the amount of information available to patients, be responsive to changing patient needs, and provide the best possible patient experience," Jackson adds. "Wellness Express offers visual and written reinforcement of a physician's discharge and after-care instructions. In addition, waiting time between physician visits and procedures now becomes informative and productive. Patients use Wellness Express to receive relevant and timely information about their health conditions, potential testing and treatment as well as general information about the hospital services."
"In the Wellness Express platform, we have combined powerful mobile applications to optimize the patient experience," says Stuart Bracken, CEO of Bioscape Digital. Sahil Patel, President of ER Express, points out that "The synergy of combining factual information, feedback, and proactive decision-making in a health care setting demonstrates a more holistic approach to real-time medical service."
For any hospital visit, assisting patients with their financial concerns is also critically important. "More than 129 million emergency room visits occur each year, and many treated patients are uninsured," says Chini Krishnan, CEO and co-founder of GetInsured, a leading health insurance technology company.
"Under the ACA, many of those same patients now qualify for tax credits that will reduce the cost of their monthly premiums, making health insurance affordable for the first time in their lives - but many are unaware of their tax credit eligibility." Wellness Express features the GetInsured subsidy calculator, which estimates patients' eligibility for tax credits within seconds of answering a few basic questions. "Wellness Express prompts patients with information about health insurance when they're thinking about the financial implications of a visit to the emergency room, so that hopefully they'll be motivated and empowered to get enrolled post-ER visit."
About John Randolph Medical Center
John Randolph Medical Center is a community hospital, serving Hopewell, Colonial Heights, Petersburg and the surrounding area since 1915. Within its friendly environment, patients can access the advanced technology and sophisticated treatments typically found in larger urban medical centers. As one of the HCA Virginia hospitals, we deliver high-quality, technology-assisted expert care in a warm, welcoming and personalized environment.
All HCA Virginia hospitals are Certified Primary Stroke Care Centers, designated by The Joint Commission, which recognizes our exceptional efforts to create better outcomes for potential stroke and heart attack patients. They also are accredited Chest Pain Centers by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care.
- See more at: http://hcavirginia.com/locations/john-randolph-medical-center/for-patients-visitors/why-choose-john-randolph-medical-center.dot#sthash.lLVzWhVb.dpuf
About Bioscape Digital (www.bioscapedigital.com | twitter.com/bioscapedigital) Founded in 2012, Bioscape Digital is a patient engagement platform that delivers relevant information into health systems utilizing tablet-based technology. With Bioscape, patients are empowered to engage in their health, providers are enabled to practice medicine more effectively and health systems are elevated to the next level in quality of care. Bioscape recently earned finalist recognition for the 2013 Intel Innovation Awards, and is a TAG Top 40 Innovative Technology Companies for 2014.
For press inquiries please contact: email@example.com
About ER Express (www.erexpress.com | twitter.com/ER_Express_EVP)
ER Express offers a suite of software-based services that improve the patient experience, before, during, and after they visit the ER or urgent care. ER Express regularly delivers 2-3x ROI to its health systems via its patient-centered programs, including its online check-in program and real-time feedback / service recovery tools. Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, ER Express has clients in more than thirty cities in the U.S.
About GetInsured (www.getinsured.com)
GetInsured is a leading health insurance technology company that combines modern technology and customer service capabilities to make health insurance shopping easy and efficient. Since its founding in 2005, GetInsured has helped millions of individuals and families find the right health insurance plan for their needs and budgets. GetInsured is approved by the federal government to enroll Americans in subsidized health insurance plans, and the company also provides state governments with technology solutions for the enablement of state-based health insurance exchanges.
QUINCY, Mass.: Starting today, CareWell Urgent Care will offer patients a convenient way to make urgent care appointments from the comfort of their homes or while on the go via their mobile device. This service is available at all eight CareWell locations, and will also be offered at the newest center, opening next month in Cambridge.
"At CareWell patient convenience is paramount. While most of our patients have been and will continue to be walk-ins, we want to make the experience as simple as possible for everyone," said CEO Sean Ginter. "Online appointment booking makes it easier to arrange both regular urgent care and occupational medicine visits."
Online appointment booking allows patients to go online, select their location and make an appointment, minimizing the time they might otherwise spend in the waiting area.
"This service is especially helpful to people with children or those who might be coming from work," added Dr. Jack Coldwell, CareWell's director of medicine. "We're hopeful that it will allow patients to get in and out as quickly as possible, so they can get back to their busy lives."
How It Works
Visit CareWellUrgentCare.com/Our-Locations and select either a regular urgent care or an occupational medicine appointment. You can view the next available time to be treated at any of the eight locations and sign up to select the time that is best for you. You will then receive an e-mail confirming your appointment time. This allows you to be seen on your time and at your convenience.
CareWell centers treat patients for any non-life-threatening but still urgent illnesses or injuries, including colds, infections, fractures, cuts, rashes, allergic reactions and the flu. Centers offer select preventative care services, including flu shots, vaccinations and sports physical exams, and have on-site X-ray and blood work capabilities.
Urgent care centers are rapidly gaining popularity across the United States as an alternative to emergency room care. According to the Urgent Care Association of America, there are approximately 9,000 urgent care centers in the United States, with 40 percent expecting to expand their existing site or add another site. CareWell anticipates opening more than five new clinics in 2014.
All CareWell locations are open 8:00am-8:00pm seven days a week.
About CareWell Urgent Care
Established in 2012, CareWell Urgent Care (care provided by Carewell Urgent Care Centers of Massachusetts, PC) is a leading provider of accessible, efficient neighborhood healthcare. CareWell is committed to changing the delivery of healthcare in America by providing on-demand, high quality, affordable care. Our approach is patient-centered, with Board-certified physicians on-site at all times and an emphasis on full collaboration with the patient's regular healthcare team. CareWell Urgent Care has centers in Billerica, Lexington, Needham, Norwell, Peabody, South Dennis and Tewksbury, Mass, as well as Warwick, R.I., with additional centers slated to open throughout New England in 2014. CareWell provides care for non-life-threatening emergencies only. If you or a loved one is experiencing chest pains, signs of a stroke, or other life-threatening emergency, immediately dial 911.
For more information:
HARNETT COUNTY, N.C.: Beginning Thursday, January 9, 2014, Harnett Health will offer a way for you to hold your place in line at the emergency room from the comfort of your home. This service is called ER Express and will be available at both Betsy Johnson Hospital in Dunn and Central Harnett Hospital in Lillington.
"Harnett Health continues to provide ways to improve your healthcare experience at our two hospitals," says Harnett Health President and CEO Ken Bryan. "We recently expanded our WakeMed hospitalist program to include both hospitals, and now we have ER Express at both."
What is ER Express
ER Express allows patients with non-life-threatening illnesses to go online and hold their place in line at the emergency room.
"This service is especially helpful to people with children who need to arrange for someone to care for them while you are at the ER, if you have an elderly relative that takes a bit more time to get ready to go to the ER, or if you live further away and want to hold your place in line while driving to the ER," comments Dan Minior, MD, Harnett Health's Emergency Room Medical Director.
Dr. Minior continues, "Also, please remember this service is for non-life-threatening emergencies only. If you or a loved one is experiencing chest pains, signs of a stroke, or other life-threatening emergency, immediately dial 911."
How It Works
Visit www.HarnettER.org and select either Betsy Johnson Hospital or Central Harnett Hospital. You can view the next available time to be treated at the emergency room and sign up to select the time that is best for you.
A confirmation e-mail will be sent back to you so you know you are confirmed to be seen in the emergency room at that time. This allows you to remain in the comfort of your home while waiting to be seen instead of waiting in a room full of other sick people.
"I want to stress that in most cases we will be able to see patients who use the ER Express service within about 15 minutes of their scheduled time, but our ER staff must treat patients based on the severity of their illness or injury," says Dr. Minior. "Should a patient with a life-threatening condition arrive when you do, your time may be delayed. We will do everything we can to see you as close to your ER Express time as possible."
About Harnett Health
Harnett Health is a private, not-for-profit healthcare system based in Dunn, N.C. The system encompasses a network of facilities throughout Harnett and Johnston counties and has more than 265 credentialed providers and more than 1,000 employees. The system includes Betsy Johnson Hospital in Dunn, N.C. with 101 beds and Central Harnett Hospital in Lillington, N.C. with 50 private inpatient rooms. Services offered through Harnett Health include outpatient rehab/wellness centers in Benson, N.C., Dunn, N.C., and Lillington, N.C., and cardiac rehabilitation services, a breast care center, outpatient cardiac testing and a wound care center in Dunn, N.C. The healthcare system has six physician practices: Angier Medical Services, Coats Medical Services, Dunn Medical Services, Lillington Medical Services, Harnett OB/GYN and Premiere Pediatrics. It also has a Foundation focused on fundraising, providing a personal touch for patients with extraordinary needs, and working to expand access to care for our community. For more information, visit www.harnetthealth.org.
GRIFFIN, GA.: Spalding Regional Hospital has launched a new online appointment reservation system at its Emergency Room. Through ER Express, patients with non-life threatening illnesses can reserve a time online to be treated at the Emergency Room. Patients can go to SpaldingRegional.com/express to use the site's online reservation system, or simply visit Spalding Regional's web homepage and click on the ER Express button. A confirmation email will then be sent to the patient, who can remain in the comfort of their own home and arrive at the reserved time. This reservation system is provided FREE to all patients.
"There are situations where patients with non-life threatening illnesses need treatment in the Emergency Room, especially when their regular doctor's office is closed" said Amy Pitts, Director of the Emergency Room. "ER Express can help us streamline admissions in the ER so all patients may be treated more quickly. However, patients with major injuries and traumas should always go directly to the emergency room without delay, or call 911."
This is the latest addition Spalding Regional has made to its Emergency Services for Spalding and surrounding counties. Most recently the hospital opened the entirely new Emergency Department for the public in 2013, almost doubling its size with 32 new patient treatment rooms and an additional sub-waiting area with four additional treatment rooms, as well as some of the latest technologies and enhanced comfort for both patients an family members.
In addition to the Emergency Room, Spalding Regional provides the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for Spalding County, and backup for surrounding counties.
About Spalding Regional Hospital
Spalding Regional Hospital, a member of Spalding Health, is a 160-bed acute care hospital located in Griffin, Ga. The hospital has been serving the medical and health care needs of Spalding, Butts, Pike, Lamar, and Henry counties for more than 100 years. Spalding Regional provides a number of services, including specialties in orthopedics, women's services, interventional cardiology, Primary Stroke Center, medical oncology, physical, occupational and speech therapy and sleep and wound medicine. Spalding Regional Medical Center is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, consistently outperforms both state and national averages of quality care scores, and currently holds awards from the American Heart Association, American Stroke Association and the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer among others. For information on Spalding Regional, visit www.spaldingregional.com.
(WPRI) - Sometimes waiting in the emergency room can be just as painful as the ailment that brought you there.
Just as you would make a reservation at your favorite restaurant, you are now able to do the same at the emergency room.
ER Express is a new company designed to cut down on waiting for emergency care at the ER.
Candi Sturgell is a fan of ER Express. She says, "You have folks that leave to come in who are really, really sick and you want them to be seen but you don't necessarily want to sit amongst them and get sick yourself. "
ER Express is just one of the growing number of companies that hospitals are using to allow patients to call in advance and make an ER appointment.
ER appointments are the most recent change taking place in emergency rooms trying to cope with a growing number of patients. In the last decade, the number of emergency department visits has increased 32% and is expected to double over the next ten years.
"For patients who are sick, but don't have a life-threatening illness, you're just getting to hold your place in line," says Sahil Patel of ER Express.
While this sounds like a great plan, not everyone is on board.
Dr. Dino Rumoro explains, "It seems like we're providing a specialty service at that point, or a privileged service, and the emergency departments are set to be there for patients whenever they feel like they have a true emergency. "
Companies behind the appointment concept say there are disclaimers on the sites to be sure those with urgent issues get immediate help.
Patel says, "Our software reads the symptoms the patient puts in and if they type in something like chest pain or bleeding or numbness, it will actually stop them, block them, and say based on what you told us, you need to call 911. "
Doctors who have already started using the appointment system say it actually allows them to improve the care they give.
Dr. Carlos Garcia is a fan, saying, "We know ahead of time what they're coming for, we have their charts ready. "
The system also helps hospitals guide patients away from the traditionally heavy hours, like four to six in the afternoon, toward appointments for time when the ER is usually slower.
Imagine you are playing basketball with your buddies at the park and after going up for a rebound you land on somebody's foot and severely twist your ankle.
You know its bad because you can't put pressure on it, but you aren't a doctor so you need to get X-Rays to see how serious the injury is ASAP.
Unfortunately, upon arriving at the emergency department you find a waiting room full of at least 50 people ahead of you who are taking up all of the available chairs, not to mention sneezing & coughing all over each other.
Sounds like an all around miserable experience, right ?
What if, though, you could have simply used your phone to check the wait time at the ED before arriving? Taking it a step further, what if once you saw you were going to be waiting in agonizing pain behind 50 people, you had the option to reserve a guaranteed slot at a specific time when those 50 people are gone?
Sounds almost too good to be true, right? Well, thanks to Atlanta-based startup ER Express this is now entirely possible.
"The core problem we solve is that patients' # 1 complaint at the ER is the long wait," ER Express Executive VP Sahil Patel told me. "Nationally, the wait averages four hours. This wait has a negative impact on patient satisfaction and creates congestion in the ER. Patients vastly prefer to do their waiting at home, and then come in at an agreed-upon time. Our service not only puts the patient in control, but reduces the congestion in the wait area. This is prove to be a competitive advantage for hospitals. In our surveys, 47% of patients said the ER Express service influenced which hospital they chose."
ER Express is currently operating in nine markets across the country, including my home market of the greater Chicagoland area where they are providing their service to patients at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. The service is also available in cities across Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Alabama.
"There are situations that require patients with non-life-threatening illnesses to seek treatment at the Emergency Department, particularly when their regular doctor's office is closed," said Michael J. Goebel, chief executive officer of Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. "We realize that wait times in our ER may improve if we can streamline the process. ER Express helps us deliver a higher level of service to all patients."
The newest feature offered by ER Express is a directory of Aftercare videos featuring a board certified emergency medicine physician that can be viewed and shared by patients as many times as they want for free. This is a particularly useful feature because its estimated as many as 78% of patients do not remember all of the instructions provided by the physician post-discharge.
As a result, often times patients will end up right back in the ED for the same condition, racking up unnecessary costs for both themselves and the provider which could have easily been avoided.
"Our strategy to expand to new markets centers on first making sure that our existing clients have a successful roll-out, and partnering with them to explain the service to their patient community," Patel told me when I asked him about the company's growth strategy. "If we do that part right, we can sell on the basis of documented ROI, and that tends to get hospital executives' attention. Secondly, we are continually investing in product innovation. For example, last quarter we rolled out our private API, which lets hospitals build on our software with their own branding. Adventist Hinsdale has done a great job doing this with www.hiinsdaleer.com."
Atlanta: Atlanta-based ER Express has developed an online service that allows patients to make reservations for emergency room visits.
Just like OpenTable gives diners the ability to make online reservations at a restaurant, ER Express allows patients to reserve an appointment in the emergency room.
ER Express, backed by a private equity firm, is using technology to address a health-care problem: major congestion in the ER, resulting in long wait times - four hours on average. Online reservations means those patients can wait a couple of hours in the comfort of their home, instead of in a germ-filled waiting room when the ER is at its busiest.
For hospitals, online patient scheduling reduces congestion and improves ER efficiency. The convenience of online scheduling also drives patients to the ER - a gateway to more lucrative inpatient and follow-up care.
ERs are often the go-to health-care destination for middle-of-the-night ear infections or minor injuries. They are also used frequently by the uninsured and underinsured, since hospitals don't turn ER patients away.
"About 80 percent of people who come to the emergency department can safely wait a couple of hours to be seen," said Dr. Boykin Robinson, emergency department medical director at WellStar Cobb Hospital, which uses ER Express to schedule reservations. "It's not all life and death."
ER Express offers patients convenience. Rather than wait in an ER, patients can wait at home, or at a more comfortable location.
An emergency room is not the most comfortable place to be waiting around, Robinson said.
"If you don't feel good," he said, "laying on your couch for two hours is better than sitting upright in an ER waiting room with a bunch of sick people."
In an emergency department, low-priority cases such as an ear infection or sprained ankle are dealt with after patients suffering gunshot wounds, heart attacks or strokes, said Sahil Patel, ER Express executive vice president.
"You're going to sit there for two to three hours," Patel said. "When you have a 2-year-old screaming at 5 a.m., going to sit in a hospital ER for two hours is a miserable experience."
An ER reservation system can help hospitals reduce congestion and better manage patient traffic in an otherwise very busy avenue of care.
"ERs, minute-to-minute, are very chaotic," Patel said. "But over the course of the day, there are predictable trends."
For example, ERs tend to be less busy at 10 a.m., and extremely busy from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Patel said.
Hospitals can manage ER traffic better by shutting off, or reducing the number of available reservations during busy times.
"So, they are not getting a reservation at, say 8 p.m., on a Friday night when there are already 30 people in the emergency room," Patel said.
Having patients wait at home, instead of in an already crowded ER, frees up the medical staff to focus on patient care, Robinson said.
"We're open 24/7," he said. "So, the more we can spread patient traffic out, the better it is for us."
For hospitals, the convenience of ER Express helps drive patients into the emergency room - which is typically a gateway to more lucrative inpatient admissions and follow-up care.
"We are delivering patients to the front door of the hospital," Patel said. "If you get a more convenient experience with WellStar, you're going to go back there not just for emergency care, but other inpatient and outpatient services."
Since launching in November 2011, ER Express has about 20 hospitals in eight states using its service. The company, which did not disclose revenue, plans to break even next year.
ER Express charges hospitals a monthly subscription fee for access to the reservation system, and has made "several thousand reservations," Patel said. A good-sized hospital will see about 50 reservations a week, he said.
ER Express is majority-owned by ValorBridge Partners LLC, an Atlanta-based private equity firm that also controls ApolloMD, a physician practice that provides emergency medicine, anesthesia and radiology services to hospitals.
For now, ER Express has not made a dent in WellStar Cobb's ER traffic.
The hospital gets five or six reservations a day - a fraction of the 250-plus daily visits the ER sees.
WellStar is evaluating the service for its remaining three hospital ERs and six urgent care centers.
Urvaksh Karkaria covers Technology and Health Care
Atlanta: ER Express announced the release of ER Express version 4.0, which adds the ability for ER patients to send their feedback via SMS text messaging. ER Express (www.erexpress.com) started last year by giving patients with non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries a simple, user-friendly web-based tool for reserving a time slot in the ER. Then, in spring 2012, the platform added a library of web-based aftercare instructions, called "Aftercare Express." Now, as part of version 4.0 of the platform, the "Feedback Express" module enables patients to share feedback on their experience in real-time via SMS text, and hospital personnel can monitor and respond to the feedback immediately.
"Feedback Express" serves as a complement to existing patient satisfaction programs, and does not replace or substitute for gathering a representative patient sample that measures and scores patient satisfaction. Instead, it is an early-warning system that is more likely to quickly identify disenchanted patients and allow hospital personnel to address matters before they escalate.
Dr. Boykin Robinson, M.D., emergency department medical director at WellStar Cobb Hospital, comments: "We have a major opportunity to positively impact the patients' experience while they are still here. Feedback Express gives us important information in real-time—that is the game changer. If we know in real-time that something isn't going well, we can fix it right then. This kind of system is more like the "Andon board" that other industries, such as auto manufacturing, have used very successfully to spot and fix production issues. Additionally, some patients are reluctant to speak up—the beauty of SMS texting is that it makes it easy for the patient."
ER Express is featured on Atlanta Business Radio: hear our discussion with hosts Lee Kantor and Stone Payton, covering key innovation in healthcare technology, emergency medicine, and why choice is good for patients, all in four minute interview streamed live from the Georgia Technology Summit.
Atlanta: In cooperation with ApolloMD, an Atlanta-based clinical group which supplies contract physicians, Nash Health Care's Emergency Care Center is testing ER Express, a new platform that allows patients with non-life -threatening illnesses to reserve appointment times for visits to the emergency room.
ER Express (www.erexpress.com) gives patients with non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries a simple, user-friendly web-based tool for reserving a time slot in the ER. Once a reservation is confirmed, the patient waits in the comfort of his or her home, and then arrives at the ER for treatment at the selected appointment time. ER Express does not charge patients for this service, which will soon be offered in hospitals across the country. ER Express services will be offered for the Emergency Care Center of Nash Health Care starting Dec. 1.
"The motivation behind this initiative is twofold," said Cindy Worthy, director of Care Management and Emergency Management at Nash Health Care. "First, we realize that there are situations in which patients with a non-life-threatening illness may need to seek treatment at the Emergency Care Center, particularly if it is on a weekend or during a time when their regular doctor's office is closed. Second, we also realize that wait times in emergency rooms may be improved if those patients can be streamlined through the process. We believe that ER Express may address both those issues."
While the emergency room reservation concept is relatively new, use of this technology has increased dramatically in the last year. With increasing ER wait times a growing issue in the United States, many hospitals are now posting their wait times and offering convenience-oriented services to improve customer service, according to information from ApolloMD.
To utilize ER Express:
• Go to www.erexpress.com
• Enter your zipcode in the space provided.
• Click on Nash Health Care Systems and follow the instructions provided.
Boykin Robinson, M.D., a southeast regional president for ApolloMD comments, "ER Express improves patient satisfaction by reducing the hassle associated with going to the ER. Offering appointments also helps to smooth out the daily volume curve which in turn creates in a better experience for the patients and the care providers."
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, ApolloMD is a physician-led and operated national group practice specializing in Emergency Medicine, Anesthesia and Radiology Services. Emphasizing quality, efficiency, communication and patient satisfaction, ApolloMD works collaboratively with over 70 partner facilities to implement best practices and process improvement across the board.