LOS ANGELES, Jan. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It's a visual that anyone who has watched TV in the last ten years would recognize: sirens blaring, ambulance wheels screeching to a stop, paramedics speeding an occupied gurney toward the emergency room doors. The scene has played out hundreds of times on screens throughout Southern California. Yet for most patients, their experience in the emergency room is decidedly different.
Because hospital emergency rooms see patients with a wide variety of conditions, they must use a process called triage that ensures patients with the most serious or life-threatening conditions are taken first for evaluation and treatment. For instance, people who have shortness of breath, chest pain or stroke symptoms may be seen before other patients. Most emergency rooms aim to take patients to a treatment room as quickly as possible. But the reality is that during busier hours, there may be a longer wait to see a doctor if a patient's condition is not life-threatening. Lakewood Regional Medical Center is taking an innovative approach to try and change that. It puts patients in control of where—and how long—they wait to be seen in the emergency room.
A new emergency room online reservation service (www.LakewoodER.com) is available at Lakewood Regional Medical Center. For a small fee of $14.99, it will allow patients to make a reservation for an emergency room visit, just as they would book a table at a restaurant through OpenTable.com. Called InQuickER, the service enables patients with truly non-emergent conditions to avoid lengthy waits in the emergency room, opting instead to wait for their appointment in the comfort of home. For a small fee, patients can make an appointment usually for an hour and a half or two hours in advance—the same amount of time they might have spent had they just shown up at an emergency room. Through the InQuickER 15-Minute Guarantee, patients are assured that they will be seen by a health care professional within 15 minutes of their scheduled appointment, or their booking fee will be refunded. InQuickER not only offers unprecedented convenience for patients, but allows them to minimize the contact they have with other sick patients in the Emergency Department waiting room.
"With the hospital emergency room closures in our area, the ones who remain open are becoming overcrowded, resulting in longer wait times," states emergency room physician Bruce Jetton, MD. "And the economy is also contributing to crowded emergency rooms; we are seeing a higher number of patients without insurance who use the emergency room as their means of medical service. We are committed to providing best and most prompt service possible and we are putting some things in place to give hospital emergency room patients options and information. The emergency room wait time clock on lakewoodregional.com and the InQuickER reservation service are some examples of this."
Non-emergent patients also have the option to choose how long they are willing to wait in Lakewood's emergency room. Since December, Lakewood Regional has been posting actual wait times on its website for patients coming into its emergency room. The wait times are updated every five minutes and give patients a two-hour rolling average on the time it takes after a patient's arrival to be escorted into a treatment room. The wait time averages give patients "real time" expectations on how quickly they can be seen after they choose to come to Lakewood's emergency room.
Lakewood Regional's emergency room is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year by Board-certified emergency physicians and nurses. It treats over 37,000 patients a year, is fully accredited and equipped to provide state-of-the-art emergency care. In 2010, Lakewood was designated by Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services as a STEMI Receiving Center for the care of cardiac patients. Hospitals earn this designation by providing close communication between paramedics, emergency specialists and cardiologists and rapid treatment for heart attack patients when they arrive in the Emergency Department. Studies have proven that STEMI Receiving Centers provide the best chances for survival when patients suffer a heart attack.
There is never a convenient time for an emergency, but Lakewood Regional is making the experience less stressful by providing more options to emergency room patients. By putting "me" back into emergency care, Lakewood is helping patients discover that patience doesn't always have to be tested in the emergency room.
SOURCE Lakewood Regional Medical Center