Patients visiting the emergency room at any of the six local HCA Virginia hospitals (Chippenham Hospital, Johnston-Willis Hospital, John Randolph Medical Center, Henrico Doctors’ Hospital, Parham Doctors’ Hospital and Retreat Doctors’ Hospital) 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 each hospital’s average wait times via text messaging, electronic billboards and the Internet.
"This new transparency of ER wait times is a celebration of more than 18 months of work by our ER teams to improve the speed at which we get the patient to the provider to begin their exam,” said Emergency Services Administrator Sheldon Maguire, RN, MSN, ACNP. "We know that Richmond families are busier than ever and that every minute matters when you are ill or injured. Our teams have worked hard to ensure that patients receive quick attention when they most need it and now patients will have visibility to just how quickly they will be seen by the provider."
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 over the past decade. HCA Virginia’s local hospitals had 212,306 ER visits in 2009, up more than 6 percent from just the previous year.
This technology, which has already been piloted successfully by several HCA hospitals across the country, is designed for patients with relatively minor medical conditions such as a sports injury or dehydration – not for those with chest pain or other potentially life-threatening health problems. Those patients should call 911 so they can receive life-saving measures in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
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 online at richmond.hcavirginia.com and electronic billboards. Cell-phone users can text ER to 23000 and will receive a text back with the most up-to-date wait time of the three HCA Virginia hospitals closest to the zip code they enter.
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 examinastion 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. Specialty ERs like our Pediatric ER may have a slightly longer wait time.
HCA Virginia Health System is the first to offer this technology in Richmond, Virginia.
About HCA Virginia
HCA Virginia is a network of locally managed hospitals, surgery centers, outpatient diagnostic and treatment facilities, and physician practices in Central, Southwestern, and Northern Virginia. HCA Virginia has 10,000 full-time employees statewide. Each year it provides approximately $100 million in free care to the uninsured, pays $100 million in taxes and donate monies to dozens of non-profit organizations and causes. In Central Virginia, HCA Virginia includes 4 imaging centers, 4 outpatient surgery centers, more than 50 physician practice locations and the 6 hospitals we are best known for - Chippenham Hospital, Johnston-Willis Hospital, John Randolph Medical Center, Henrico Doctors’ Hospital (henricodoctors.com), Parham Doctors’ Hospital and Retreat Doctors’ Hospital.