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ER wait times and the emergency physician schedule

Posted on 8/13/2014 by Elizabeth in category: scheduling software articles
In an era of heightened healthcare competition, an increasing number of urgent care medical centers and emergency departments at hospitals are adopting and offering online physician scheduling reservations for patients who desire immediate medical attention.

Some hospitals are going so far as to provide their emergency room wait times on their website, and some are even offering an app for patients to download and view ER wait times in real time.

The hope is to help attract more patients who desire to avoid crowded emergency rooms and long waits, in addition to boosting patient satisfaction ratings. This availability of patients to schedule their visit online adds just another factor into the already challenging task of emergency medicine scheduling.

There’s also an ER Wait Watcher app that provides potential patients a way to see which local emergency room in their area will be able to see them the fastest (as is reported by the emergency room department to the government). In other words, the closest ER to the patient may not be the fastest. Because patients now are armed with more information, they have more choices as far as their medical care goes.

Further, with more people having access to health insurance as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, coupled with a shortage of primary care physicians, newly insured patients are seeking out emergency rooms for what are essentially non-emergency purposes. According to a recent poll, most ER physicians believe that patient emergency room visits will continue to increase over the next few years.

These factors in combination to the inherent stresses of dealing with life-threatening situations and satisfying an ER physician’s duty and shift scheduling preferences are increasing the strains experienced by emergency departments in general, and the emergency physician schedule, in particular. Long wait times can also impact a patient's overall health status, as some opt to leave the ER department without receiving medical care as a result of long wait times.

As hospital ER departments strive to decrease ER wait times to be more competitive in their community and offer quicker care to its patients, it is likely that ER physician scheduling managers will look to tools, including emergency medical scheduling software, to help them provide more optimal and efficient scheduling for the ER physicians.

There’s no doubt emergency physicians and the busy departments they work in are dedicated to providing high-quality emergency medical care as quickly as possible to patients in need. Unfortunately, long wait times and crowded emergency waiting rooms make carrying out this commitment more difficult.

Practical changes, though, such as scheduline ER patient online when possible, reducing ER wait times, and adopting emergency physician scheduling software can make a world of difference in terms of increasing profits, boosting patient satisfaction, and improving the quality of emergency medicine health care in ER departments across the country.

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