Healthcare services provider HCA's East Florida division is so sure patients won't have to spend a long time waiting to see a doctor at its emergency rooms, it advertises average wait times on digital billboards around communities where its hospitals and surgery centers are located.
The billboards evolved out of an effort to streamline the workflow in the East Florida division's emergency services department. The division developed software that extracts ER wait times and averages them over a rolling four-hour window. This gave staff a way to easily monitor workflow and wait times.
Once that was accomplished, the division decided to make wait-time data available to the communities it served. Using RSS feeds, it posted wait times on its hospital Web sites, created an iPhone app and provided text messages, along with the billboard messages.
"This type of transparency is not common in the hospital industry and required great confidence in our emergency services operations," says HCA, which runs 163 hospitals and 105 surgery centers in 20 states.
Generally, 65% of a hospital's inpatient activity is derived from ER admissions. The ER wait-time service is credited with helping increase emergency room admissions at HCA's East Florida division by nearly 7%.