Emergency-Room Wait Times Delivered by RSS, Text and iPhone Apps

It Would Make Us Switch ERs

By Published on . 6

If there's anything worse than having to go to the emergency room it's getting there and having to wait two hours to be seen by a doc, during which you'll probably contract some other disease that will have you back in the same spot a week later. Which is why we kinda liked this marketing push from Hospital Corporation of America's East Florida Division: use digital technology to deliver current emergency room waiting times.

Its current wait times are delivered via RSS feeds to electronic billboards to help promote its claims that waits are much shorter at its ERs than at other south Florida hospitals.

It's also got a texting service and iPhone app that are, perhaps, more practical applications of the information if you're in need of a doctor, stat. Text "ER" to the short code 23000 and you'll get a message back asking for their zip code; reply with it and receive the address to the ER, the wait time and a number to call if you have a question for a nurse. Meanwhile the iPhone app, called iTriage, will help you locate all the nearby ERs (although the HCA ones will have additional information including, yes, current wait time).

"Obviously, people who have a serious injury or medical condition should call 9-1-1 or go to the closest emergency room," wrote Ed Fishbough, in the communications department at HCA, in an email. "HCA East Florida's campaign targets potential walk-in patients who do choose where they will go to get medical care." He added that the network of 12 emergency departments in South Florida have seen "significant increases in the number of patients" visiting its ERs and that they're "very pleased" with the results of this campaign.

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