October 12, 2012

St. John Medical Center offers appointments online for emergency room service

Co-owned by the Sisters of Charity Health System and University Hospitals, St. John Medical Center is one of eight University Hospitals (UH) emergency rooms where patients can now make an appointment online and wait their turn in the comfort of their home.

The service started a few weeks ago and is for people with non-life-threatening conditions, said Richard Hanson, president of UH community hospitals and ambulatory network. Those with life-threatening emergencies should call 911 or immediately head to a hospital. Patients waiting at home will get email and automated phone status updates from the InQuicker online system in case of delays, Hanson said, and generally the wait should be only about 15 minutes once they arrive at the emergency room.

“The intent of this project is not to reduce waiting time, but to give patients the choice of waiting in line at home,” he said. The software estimates available treatment times based on how many patients are in need of care; online users are subject to the same triage and queuing as others in the emergency room.

UH is the only hospital system in Ohio with the online appointment service, InQuicker company spokesman Chris Song said.

The system is online at uhhospitals.org/inquicker. A prompt allows the user to click on one of the emergency room locations. The user then selects a treatment time and fills out a form with their name, phone number and symptoms.

The system sends an alert to the emergency room when a time is set by an online user and a nurse reviews the person's symptoms. InQuicker is designed to detect key words that may indicate if the person's condition is life-threatening and will not allow the appointment to be scheduled, Song said. InQuicker will instead tell the person to call 911. The emergency room nurse may follow-up with a call as well.

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