Friday, July 29, 2011

Emergency Department Waiting Times Posted on Billboards

Hospitals have begun to post their Emergency Department waiting times on billboards, on the internet and even via text messages.  In New Jersey, a hospital has an electronic billboard with waiting times on the New Jersey Turnpike near the Holland Tunnel.  The billboard posts the average wait time from entering the door of the ED to the time the patient sees a medical provider (their current claim is an average wait time of less than 30 minutes).  Although some argue that posting waiting times will help cut backlogs because people with less urgent problems will drive farther to a hospital with a shorter wait time, others argue that it is a marketing strategy used to attract less urgent patients that can be seen and discharged quickly.  Some even argue that it is luring patients from competing hospitals.  I personally believe that it may deter patients that are really ill from waiting if they feel that the wait is too long.  In addition, just because a patient may get into a bed quickly doesn’t mean they will get seen quickly and doesn’t mean that you will get better care.  I wrote an article on this topic recently and it generated some interesting debate on Facebook.  Here is a link to the article:  Emergency Department Waiting Times: A Solution to ED Overcrowding or a Deterrent to Patients?

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