Text service lets patients find shortest ER wait times

The last thing anyone facing a medical emergency wants to see is a crowded emergency room, where their condition can be compounded by long wait times. Now, patients in some states can send a text message to a service, 4ER411, to find the shortest emergency room wait times at nearby participating hospitals.

The application, ER Texting, currently operates in hospitals in Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts and New Jersey, according to ER Texting Inc. It was initially developed as a marketing tool for hospitals, but hospital executives discovered that it improves patient satisfaction and load balancing.

“This service helps us to be transparent to our patients, even before they arrive at one of our campuses,” Jeffrey Finkelstein, chief of emergency medicine at Hospital of Central Connecticut, said in the company’s release.

It could also be used as a way to increase competition among hospitals as they are broadcasting their emergency room performance.

Hospitals around the country are taking advantage of technology to help improve the medical experience for patients.

In April, GCN reported that Georgia is installing a networked system to link all of its emergency medical first responder communications systems. The system will enable trauma cases to be assessed and transported to the most appropriate hospital with the available capacity to treat their injuries. The system is slated to be running by July.

Another application, Hospital Compare, enables individuals to see patient ratings of hospitals, reported GCN in October.

And in September, the CIO of California recommended that state employees use free Web-based 411 information services instead of calling to save money, reported GCN 

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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