Speeding Things Up
Local emergency rooms acknowledge the waiting times are troubling.
“Anybody who would look at the data would say, ‘You’re absolutely right. There is a problem,’” said Dr. Riccio.
The hospitals are working on improving the patient experience from the time they enter the waiting room. One measurement of efficiency is how fast patients are initially evaluated by a doctor or health care provider. Here’s how local hospitals stacked up (average times):Unity:
1 hour, 31 minutesStrong:
34 minutesRochester General:
25 minutesState Average:
36 minutesNational Average:
Recognizing it had a problem, Unity recently implemented a new system. In traditional emergency rooms, patients register at a front desk, where they give their names and insurance information and sit in the waiting room to be called. In Unity’s new model, patients are immediately assessed when they arrive.
“One of the big things that we did was eliminating that kind of waiting room,” said Dr. Riccio. “You’re going to be seen by a clinical person immediately, not a registration specialist. So you’re going to be rapidly triaged.”
Unity said its has improved overall waiting times by more than a third since last year.
Rochester General has had a similar system in place for several years. The hospital also uses scribes who take notes for doctors, speeding up patient interactions.
“We took our wait times and we cut it by two-thirds,” said Dr. Grams.
Dr. Grams said at one point, as many as 10 percent of patients were walking out without being treated. That rate is down to one percent at Rochester General.
Last fall, Strong started to triage patients immediately, treating very sick people to one part of the emergency room and more minor issues in another part of the department.
“The fact of the matter is, when a patient needs intervention, a provider is consulted very early,” said Parrinello.
Both Spiro and MacDonald said they got good medical care, despite long waits in the emergency room - at the height of flu season.
“Considering the situation that staff was under, they did the best they could and they gave me some very excellent care,” said Spiro.To compare area hospitals, type in your zip code on this website. Emergency room wait times can be found under "Timely and Efficient Care."