With the use of a telemedicine program, MedStar officials say they've found a way to reduce the wait time at the Washington Hospital Center ED, improve patient satisfaction, and boost revenue, Tina Reed reports for the Washington Business Journal.
According to CMS data, the ED's wait—averaging more than 115 minutes—was among Washington D.C.'s longest.
To cut ED waits, MedStar partnered with telemedicine startup EmOpti on a pilot program of a system called Teletriage. The system works by using video to allow a doctor to see a patient remotely during the triage process. As a result, triage nurses can start ordering tests and certain medications while patients wait for a full, in-person physical.
Based on the pilot—which also ran at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore—the D.C. hospital found that the 90-second telemedicine consults help cut wait times to about 32 minutes on weekdays. Given the success of the pilot, MedStar plans to expand the pilot to its other hospitals, Reed reports.
Ethan Booker, an attending physician in Washington Hospital Center's ED, said Teletriage "was very effective at decreasing the number of people who left without being seen, at getting to people more quickly." He added, "There's still a wait time, but the idea is that the wait time should be more productive."
According to Reed, the system also helped improve the hospital's patient satisfaction scores.
In addition, the system helps the hospital with ED revenue. According to Booker, a 2 percent drop in the number patients who leave without being seen translates to about $1.4 million in annual revenue (Reed, Washington Business Journal, 5/15).
Long wait times aren't inevitable: A tale of two visits
Making an appointment to treat an illness still means waiting: on the phone, in the waiting room, the exam room, and the pharmacy. But it doesn't have to be this way.
We've outlined 12 common scenarios across an episode of care that can lead to patient dissatisfaction, and we've provided modern solutions to solve each one. Check out our slideshow, and start making changes to your medical group that patients will notice.