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Four ways to decrease patient ER wait times

Posted on 5/7/2014 by Elizabeth in category: scheduling software articles
Long ER wait times are not good for patients, communities, ER physicians, or hospitals. Yet they seem to plague emergency rooms across the country. A recent ABC news report reveals that ER wait times today are generally one hour or more nationwide. This number is up significantly from the 46 minutes reported in 2004. The CDC also reports that between 2003 and 2009, ER wait times increased to an average of 58.1 minutes.

In the past, efforts to streamline the admittance process in emergency rooms have had limited success. Technology today allows many hospitals and medical centers that have struggled in the past to keep up with emergency room demands to get their ERs under much tighter control. These are four things you might consider that will drastically reduce wait times for your emergency medicine patients.

1) Enable Patient Online ER Appointment Booking

Allow patients to schedule their ER visits online using scheduling software. Many hospitals already use shift scheduling software, so it’s not a huge leap to make the move to enable patients the ability to schedule emergency room appointments in much the same way.

Hospital administrators have known, for a while, that many patients are using emergency services in place of preventative care and/or in the absence of a family doctor. Some, according to Fierce Health, are even using the ER in place of dental visits. This technology allows them to visit, if the emergency isn’t life threatening, at times when emergency rooms are traditionally less crowded.

2) Utilize ER Scheduling Software

Emergency medicine scheduling for staff, in order to ensure adequate shift coverage, is vital in all emergency departments. You need a full shift of people working at all times in order to meet the needs of the communities you serve. This includes scheduling overflow and on-call employees in case other physicians, nurses, and technicians are unable to report to work as scheduled due to emergencies of their own. When shifts aren’t adequately manned, ER wait times get longer.

3) Provide Wait Times to Patients

There are many ways hospitals can get the word out about current wait times. This lets people who don’t have genuine emergencies to contend with know when is and is not a good time to visit the emergency room.

Hospitals have several avenues available to them to do this. Some emergency rooms post the numbers in the waiting room and over admission calendars. Other hospitals allow you to view the current wait times on their websites while even more are turning to text message alerts to get the word out. If you combine this with ER scheduling software to offer your patients, you can gain even better control of your wait times.

4) Change the Way You Schedule Patients

A Kings County Ohio hospital managed to reduce average wait times by approximately 70 percent by making changes to the way they handled emergency medicine scheduling and having doctors, nurses, and technicians work together to come up with an accurate diagnosis. While the wait time reduction from over 40 minutes to only 12 minutes is certainly noteworthy, the financial benefits of doing so, nearly $150 per hour, are also worth noting.

Whether your emergency medicine facility is interested in meeting the shift scheduling needs of almost any busy medical practice today or you’re interested in learning new ways to serve your patients and your community better by improving overall efficiency in the emergency medicine department, the right ER scheduling software offers many ways to accomplish a singular goal.

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