In February 2007, Berlin-based Atlantic General Hospital launched an initiative brand-new to the area’s healthcare market: a time promise for services in their ER. Through grand-scale efforts to streamline procedures that involved all departments from housekeeping to intensive care, the healthcare facility’s 30 Minute ER Promise was born.
Atlantic General has not stopped with this novel idea, instead pushing on to develop another program to improve patient convenience and access to the healthcare services they need.
This December, the hospital and healthcare system has unveiled its new online wait time service; individuals can now view real-time waits for care in the emergency department on Atlantic General’s homepage. Found at www.atlanticgeneral.org, the wait time information streams from the emergency department and is updated every five minutes, thus improving the communications to individuals with urgent health concerns and their families regarding what they can expect to experience when they come to the hospital.
“By no means do we want anyone to hold off coming to us if they are in a truly emergent situation,” said Andi West-McCabe, director of emergency services at Atlantic General Hospital. “But, for those with more minor problems – a broken finger, a laceration – our new online service is an invaluable tool for avoiding peak volumes and a longer wait.”
The undertaking involved a collaboration of the hospital’s emergency department, IT services and their web developer to create a dynamic web display that presents accurate figures, really an average wait time value, every five minutes.
Eventually, the web display will extend beyond wait times for the ER to include the waits for other hospital services and walk-in primary care at two of the health system locations. Hospital officials are planning for a summer 2009 launch for the Atlantic Health Center, located on the hospital’s campus, and Ocean City’s Atlantic ImmediCare. The fall will bring online wait times for hospital outpatient diagnostics, including laboratory and imaging services.
”This whole program extends from our mission to be focused on the health and wellbeing of our community. We understand that many live in areas where they have an equal driving distance to obtain emergency care at different facilities, and we are providing a means for them to determine where they can receive that care in the most timely fashion,” states Michael Franklin, President and CEO of AGH. “We have established a unique system by which we can monitor a key quality factor in delivering emergency care – wait time. We know that in October our average waiting time to receiving care was 11 minutes. This is something the public should know when making their decisions on where to go for care.”
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