Do you remember the last time you went to the hospital? If you're anything like me, you tend to need an urgent visit, which you could take care of at the doctor's office, more often than you have an actual medical emergency. The problem for most people is that it happens most often on a weekend, when most doctor's offices are closed. You don't want to be miserable all weekend, or perhaps it's urgent enough you CAN'T wait, even though it's not really an emergency. So what do you do? You go to the ER, where you end up waiting for several hours. You don't even want to breathe, as there are people coughing, sneezing, vomiting their germs everywhere. You're uncomfortable in the stiff-backed chairs. It's loud and boring. If you have to bring children, things are twice as bad. But there's nothing you can do about that, right?
Wrong. Tyler Kiley, whose mother was an ER nurse, adapted technologies found on sites such as Opentable.com when he recognized the need for Emergency Rooms to have a way to control the flow of patients, which also benefits the patients by having a shorter wait time. This led to the development of Georgia-based company InQuickER, which can help you avoid all the uncomfortable waiting. I was able to speak with Michael Brody-Waite, Operations VP, to find out more.
Even though they went live in 2006, you may not have heard of them yet, because they are more focused on providing maximum value for patients and hospitals than on doing PR. Hospitals using the service usually provide their own marketing, and satisfied patients help to spread the word through word-of-mouth. In fact, I heard about this from a local hospital, St. Anthony's of Oklahoma City, via a post on their Facebook Fan Page.
They even created a commercial to advertise that they are now using InQuickER:
So what does InQuickER do? Although the name suggests that you might get in faster, that isn't really what it means. They can't promise to get you in before someone having a heart attack. What they CAN promise is that if you sign up and select a treatment time, you will be able to wait at home, and if you show up at your selected time, you will be seen within a certain time period of the time selected or there will be a either a full or partial refund. The time period and amount of refund is decided by each hospital, so these will vary. The company received feedback from patients that showed that they have a 98-99% success rate at meeting the guarantee.
Unfortunately, at the moment, InQuickER can not be found in many places, which is due to the problem of hospitals having a large number of projects to choose from, and they have to prioritize. So while you will probably see InQuickER coming to a hospital near you within a few years, it may not be available in your area for quite some time. They currently have five hospitals participating, and the sixth will be available in a few weeks. Brody-Waite reports that their goal is approximately 50 new hospitals by the end of next year. You can help bring InQuickER to your area, though! You can suggest a hospital to InQuickER, or you can contact your local hospital and suggest they check out InQuickER. If you are an administrator of a hospital, feel free to fill out the form to get more information here, or call (877)-221-7981.
When asked about the expected impact of Health Care Reform, Brody-Waite explained that while they have thought about it, they prefer to focus on what they can control, rather than speculate on what there is little information on. However, they don't expect a large impact, as the demands placed on emergency rooms will likely increase as the population grows. The need to meet expectations for convenience will also probably still to be an issue. They are also looking at adding services in Urgent Care and Primary Clinics, which will spread their services out and reduce impact.
Brody-Waite also wanted to let current and potential customers know that InQuickER welcomes feedback and offers many ways to contact them. You can let them know your opinion via their Facebook Fan Page, Twitter Account, and the contact form on their website. He said they receive a lot of feedback from the elderly and parents that tells them they are providing a valuable experience, and I agree. Now, while the service isn't free, I don't mind paying a price for convenience, especially when I'm hurting. How about you?
Warning: Do not use this service if you are having a true medical emergency!