Motorists around Harrisburg Monday afternoon knew the wait time to get into the Emergency Room at Osteopathic Hospital was zero minutes.
It would take 27 minutes to be treated by a doctor at Harrisburg Hospital.
A billboard told them so.
PinnacleHealth has posted 14 electronic billboards around the Midstate and updates it every five minutes with the Emergency Room wait times.
The home page on PinnacleHealth's website constantly flashes those wait times.
"What we're trying to do is give people a choice," said Dr. Christian Caicedo, Pinnacle's Administrative Director of Emergency Services. "I want to make sure our community knows if they have minor illnesses they can choose to come to one of our emergency rooms and they can get the care that they could get at their family doctors, or urgent care, or another ER."
Many patients think the ER should be a last resort and reserved for the worst of the worst. But Caicedo says that's not necessarily true and wants people to now think of the ER for relatively minor illnesses.
"If they can go to family doctor and be seen there and utilize less resources, I think that's a wonderful thing," Caicedo said. "But if they cannot, then this is a convenience we're providing for them. They can be seen here and we'll do it in a timely and efficient manner for them."
With several hospitals in the region and urgent care facilities frequently popping up, hospitals are now in competition for the sick. PinnacleHealth admits treating patients like customers and hopes the public posting of ER wait times will be seen as consumer friendly.
"I believe customer service equals quality care," Caicedo said. "If I'm giving good customer service and I connect with that patient, they're gonna have a better understanding of what I'm trying to help them with. They'll follow my directions better and they will in turn have better quality care. The better the rapport between me and that patient, the better their outcomes will be."
Again, shopping ER wait times is only for relatively minor medical situations. Heart attacks, stroke, serious accidents should still prompt a 911 call and those patients will be treated immediately upon arrival to the ER.
Tuesday, August 19 2014 1:03 PM EDT2014-08-19 17:03:38 GMT
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