What is the one problem that almost every patient has with hospitals? It’s the long wait times before you can enter the emergency room and see a doctor. It doesn’t matter if the patient is facing a minor or serious problem. No one wants to wait for hours to see a doctor. While wait times aren’t necessarily getting better, there’s now something that patients can use with some hospitals. Hospitals are now texting emergency room wait times to patients if you send them a special SMS message ahead of time.
Texting for Wait Times
The truth is that only a handful of hospitals across the country are offering this service, but it’s rapidly becoming more popular due to the marketing benefits and how it has added a touch of convenience to an industry that’s known for long wait times. Using this service is easy for both the patient and hospital.
Patients just have to text a certain code to the hospital’s number. The code is usually “ER,” but it might change depending on your nearby medical centers. You can typically find the exact code and number on the hospital’s website.
Hospitals need to do a bit of work to implement this system, but it’s not that difficult. There are many SMS services that will do all or most of the work for the hospital, but it can also be done by setting up a dedicated SMS server. There also needs to be a program to record and update the average waiting time.
Accuracy is everything with this system. If the wait times are incorrect, then why would patients bother texting hospitals? While there are many factors to consider and the estimate is nothing more than an educated guess based on what other patients are facing, most patients and hospitals have said that the estimates are quite accurate.
The majority of programs used to judge approximate waiting times are updated every five to 10 minutes and they are usually within an hour of the real waiting time. This means that patients can properly use this figure to pick the right medical center.
At the same time, remember that this is only informational and it can radical change when you get to the hospital. Those with life-threatening issues are typically treated first and the wait times can increase if many people show up at the hospital at the same time.
Benefits to Hospitals
While this system is primarily meant to improve customer satisfaction, there is a major benefit to hospitals that want more patients. Better customer satisfaction has been proven to increase sales, and this is no exception. Over 90 percent of patients are satisfied with this system and they are more willing to go to a hospital because they know how long they will wait.
Not only that, but surveys have found that about 95 percent of patients used this figure when selecting a facility. If a hospital is able to keep its wait times short, then it can get significantly more patients.
Another major benefit is the public’s perception of the hospital. Those that offered this texting service seemed much more technologically advanced. Not only did patients think that they would get better care from these centers, but they were also more willing to return if they received quality service. Surveyed patients also thought that these hospitals cared more about them.
Caters to the Modern Consumer
Hospitals are one of the few industries that haven’t catered to modern consumers. The modern consumer is used to being able to go online and compare services. While there are reviews and articles about most hospitals, the fact is that hospitals are behind the curve in this respect.
Customers want to objectively review and compare hospitals before choosing one, but that has been very difficult before this service. Patients would have to guess about the best hospital, but now they can use this to really see which establishment would be the best.
Cost is largely dependent on the size of the hospital and number of subscribers, but the concrete answer is that this service costs very little when compared to the value that it brings. Each SMS message costs just pennies and the system itself is usually in the hundreds or low thousands. This means that hospitals can easily profit without spending a lot of extra money.
This texting service is a huge advancement for the medical industry. Not only are patients happier knowing the approximate wait times, but it has helped hospitals bring in more patients. Everyone gains something with this service and it’s only a matter of years before every hospital uses this system.