Monday, June 21, 2010
Sometimes the most painful part about going to the emergency room (ER) is the wait time. Centennial Medical Center in Frisco, Texas, recently introduced a new way for patients to find out ER wait times, before they ever leave the house.
Before heading to the ER, patients can now access the hospital’s website at centennialmedcenter.com and check out the average door-to-bed wait time on the hospital’s homepage. Door-to-bed wait time is the average time a patient waits to be escorted to a bed from the time they arrive in the ER.
The time is tracked using a statistical tracker system that transfers data to an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed. The feed automatically displays and updates the time online. Wait times reflect a rolling two-hour average and are updated every five minutes. Patients are seen in priority order based on the type and severity of their medical complaint.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average hospital ER wait time to see a physician is nearly 56 minutes, but at Centennial, the average wait time is usually under 30 minutes
“We know that no one wants to wait to start feeling better,” said Jim Davis, director of business development at Centennial Medical Center. “We are working hard to ensure that patients are treated as quickly as possible, and now, just how quickly we can do that is available for everyone to see.”
The technology is designed for patients with relatively minor medical conditions. Patients with potentially life-threatening health problems should call 9-1-1 so they can receive life-saving measures in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Patients with medical emergencies, such as heart attack, stroke or traumatic injuries, are always seen immediately.
David Arai, MD, Emergency Department medical director at Centennial Medical Center says the technology is helping the hospital address one of the most common complaints about emergency departments – long wait times. “A trip to the ER is something most people never want to have to face,” said Dr. Arai. “We can help patients with non-life threatening conditions know what to expect when they arrive at the hospital and ease their stress. Another benefit to coming to CMC is you have the support of a full-service acute care hospital if something minor turns into something serious.”
The emergency department at Centennial Medical Center treats approximately 25,000 patients each year. Patients to the emergency department are separated by clinical need into specialized care areas. All patients benefit from advanced technology, quick response and an experienced team of professionals who care for patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The 21-bed unit is equipped with 2 trauma rooms and 7 private treatment rooms to provide quality care for all patients.
After immediate assessment, patients are assigned a priority based on the nature and extent of a patient’s injury or illness. The triage nurse will then engage the physician or other qualified medical person to continue care based on the assigned priority.
In order to provide care more quickly, Centennial Medical Center uses a wireless, paperless emergency department management system (EDMS) that takes the place of time-consuming paperwork, which optimizes patient service and quality of care. The moment a patient arrives, the wireless handheld electronic tablets alert the medical staff that a new patient is awaiting evaluation. A physician promptly begins evaluating the patient and orders all necessary tests electronically. The physician's requests are immediately transmitted to the proper personnel and the lab. As the patient is ushered through the department, EDMS tracks every detail without wasteful paperwork or red tape.