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Should ED Wait Time Billboards Go Blank?

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, January 15, 2014

Forget about touting short emergency department wait times. Reducing volumes of non-emergent patients in the ED is a higher-value pursuit.


Billboard


Photo: Josh Hallett

The hospital marketing tactic of promoting short emergency department wait times is out of step with the swift changes in the healthcare industry.

Through billboards, websites, and mobile apps, hospitals have been promoting their speedy ED wait times to patients. In fact, new tools to help them do so are already making headway in the new year.

The nonprofit journalism site ProPublica launched its ER Wait Watcher tool in late December. The site calculates average emergency room wait times based on the most recent federal data compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It also uses Google mapping to calculate the time it will take to arrive at the hospital from your current location, even considering current traffic.

Another popular app, iTriage, allows patients to check ER wait times on their mobile devices. It also allows users to set up prompts that will check in with an emergency room and send notification that they are on their way.

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2 comments on "Should ED Wait Time Billboards Go Blank?"


Eva Francis (1/17/2014 at 12:47 AM)
Excellent article

Stephen Moegling (1/15/2014 at 3:27 PM)
Provocative article! Healthcare seems to have its feet in different worlds [INVALID] one foot in the "old" way of driving revenue (fee for service) and the other foot in the "new" way of being reimbursed based on keeping patients well and out of the hospital (and ER). Thanks for the article. Thoroughly enjoyed.