Who has not spent hours in an emergency room waiting to be called?
Well, this may change soon. Patients are now allowed to book an appointment online at Lakewood Regional Medical Center for $15.00 up to between 90 minutes and two hours ahead. Not only will this decrease long waiting times, but also will create more efficiency in the emergency and triage areas. If scheduled patients are not seen within a quarter of an hour within the alloted time, the booking fee is refunded.
Lakewood is not alone in this innovation. There are seven other southern California hospitals adopting this policy and 23 hospitals and urgent care centers in eight states that have implemented online appointment systems.
Although the hospitals incur a cost of $3000 a month, the money is recouped by the appointments made and fees paid. Four hundred patients have already taken advantage of this system in Loma Linda University Medical Center, which charges $25 for the service of its 54 bed emergency room.
Statistics show that more than one hundred million emergency department visits are made annually for non-life threatening problems and those opposing the appointment options state that it will encourage further misuse of the emergency rooms.
However, it is rightly pointed out that many people utilize the emergency services because it is at an off time when other alternative sites or physicians are not available.
New structuring and accessibility of the emergency services will make it more user friendly and less intimidating. But, hope not to see you there!