WL-online ER scheduling-dec 5 2012 444 words / 9 inches
Sick can schedule ER appointments online
By Kevin Kelley
In addition to implementing its 30-minute ER pledge, St. John Medical Center now allows patients to schedule an emergency department appointment over the Internet.
The InQuicker program, named after the software system used to manage the online appointments, was implemented at St. John Medical Center and seven other University Hospitals emergency rooms earlier this year. St. John is jointly owned by University Hospitals and the Sisters of Charity Health System.
The program’s goal is to give the patient the option of waiting to see medical professionals from the comfort of their homes, hospital officials said.
The software estimates available treatment times based on how many patients are in need of care. Online users are subject to the same triage and queuing as other patients. Typically, a patient who has made an online appointment waits around 15 minutes once he or she arrives at the emergency room, hospital officials said.
The InQuicker scheduling program was conceived of and implemented separately from St. John Medical Center’s pledge that patients will be seen by a doctor within 30 minutes of arriving at the emergency room, hospital President William Young told West Life.
“But they’ve really dovetailed nicely,” he said.
The hospital heard from one patient who scheduled his ER appointment from an airplane. The man was flying in from New York, where he had been stung by a bee shortly before boarding his plane, explained Patrick Garmone, the hospital’s director of marketing and public relations. During the flight, his symptoms, such as swelling, worsened. He used his laptop to schedule an emergency room appointment after his scheduled arrival.
The InQuicker appointment system can be accessed from a link on the hospital’s website, StJohnMedicalCenter.net, or at https://uh.inquicker.com/facility/st-john-medical-center. The patient selects a treatment time and fills out a form with his or her name, phone number and symptoms.
The system sends an alert to the ER when a time is set by an online user, and a nurse reviews the person’s symptoms.
Hospital officials emphasize that the online scheduling system should not be used when a patient is experiencing life-threatening emergencies, such as severe chest pain, shortness of breath or obvious bone fractures.
In fact, if the InQuicker software detects a keyword indicating a life-threatening condition, it will not allow the appointment to be scheduled and instead instruct the person to call 911. A nurse may follow up with a call as well in such a situation.
Founded in 2006, Nashville-based InQuicker has sold its online emergency room scheduling software to 158 emergency rooms or urgent care centers in 21 states.