ED patients can reduce waiting times with new feature offered by hospitals

Published on Monday, 5 August 2019 15:31
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By Marlese Lessing
NEW BRITAIN - Patients and their families headed to the emergency room can now avoid waiting times with a reservation service called On My Way.
On My Way allows for patients to see waiting times at MidState Medical Center in Meriden and The Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain and Southington.
It also lets emergency department staff know the patient is en route, which helps staff prepare for the patient and reduce waiting time, says Dr. Jeff Finkelstein, vice president of medical affairs for MidState Medical Center and The Hospital of Central Connecticut.
“When patients use On My Way, the [waiting] clock is set,” Finkelstein said. “The patients put a few key pieces of demographic in, and that allows us to put them on the waiting list.”
The service can be accessed through the Hospital of Central Connecticut website at https://thocc.org/, and the MidState Medical Center Website at https://midstatemedical.org/. Patients with a MyChartPLUS account can login through the patient portal to automatically fill in their name, date of birth and sex. Patients can also add their estimated time of arrival to the emergency room.
The service is helpful in several ways to both patients and hospitals, Finkelstein said. Patients who can see the hospital waiting times and go to a less busy hospital can load-balance emergency department demand.
“If the (emergency department) is already behind, and someone chooses to go to a less busy hospital, it helps everyone,” Finkelstein said.
As well, it can help hospitals predict when surges of patients are expected, and bring in workers who are on call to the emergency department sooner.
“If more patients used it, we could staff based off of it,” Finkelstein said.
While the On My Way feature is a way to potentially reduce waiting times, it is not guaranteed that a patient will be seen right away, Finkelstein said. Patients with more urgent medical needs, such as heavy bleeding or a stroke, will be seen before a patient with a less severe issue, even if the latter used On My Way.
However, if two patients come in with the same problem at the same time, the patient who uses On My Way is likely to be seen sooner, Dr. Finkelstein says.
While the waiting times have been posted on the hospital sites before the On My Way service, which is offered through the hospital software system Epic, Finkelstein said the two systems used in conjunction will help improve patients’ experience in the emergency room.
“We’ve never had this [system] before,” Finkelstein said. “We [used to] see patients [only] when they come in through the door .... Hospital care has become more retail and consumer oriented, so we are trying to meet and exceed our patients’ expectations.”
If a patient is experiencing a true medical emergency, they should go to the nearest emergency department, regardless of waiting time, or call 9-1-1, Finkelstein said.

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News on Monday, 5 August 2019 15:31. Updated: Monday, 5 August 2019 15:46.