Reston, Virginia, April 15, 2010 - Patients visiting the Emergency Room at Reston Hospital Center no longer need to guess how long they'll wait before receiving care. Now they can find out in advance, thanks to a new program that publicizes the hospital's average wait times via text messaging, electronic banner ads and the Internet.
"The physicians and nurses in Reston Hospital Center's emergency room have developed several innovative methods to see and treat patients faster-and they work," said Bill Adams, president and CEO of Reston Hospital Center. "This new technology allows us to share what I've known for years-that Reston is able to see patients and begin treatment quickly. In fact our average wait time is less than half the industry average."
This technology, which has already been piloted successfully by several HCA hospitals in Florida, is designed for patients with relatively minor medical conditions - not for those with chest pain or other potentially life-threatening health problems. "Those patients should absolutely dial 911 so that EMS squad members can begin lifesaving measures during the ambulance trip to the hospital," said Darren Lisse, MD, the medical director of Reston Hospital Center's emergency department.
Wait times are tracked using a statistical tracker system in the ER which transfers data to an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed. This feed automatically displays and updates the time on the hospital's website (www.restonhospital.com) and online banner ads. Cell-phone users can text ER to 23000 to and receive a text back with the most up-to-date wait time.
Wait times reflect a rolling four-hour average and are updated every 30 minutes. The term is defined as the time between entering the ER and beginning the medical screening examination from a qualified medical professional - either a physician, a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner. Patients are seen in priority order based on the type and severity of their medical complaint.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the average hospital ER wait time is 55 minutes, up from 38 minutes 10 years ago. The increase has been caused in part by an explosion of ER traffic nationally - a 32 percent increase, from 90.3 million to 119.2 million, over the past decade. Reston Hospital Center had 43,390 ER visits in 2009, up from 34,191 five years ago in 2004.
Reston Hospital Center is the first hospital in the Washington Metropolitan Region, and the state of Virginia, to offer this technology.