Interactive map helps patients find the fastest emergency healthcare

Photo: Andy Smith/Flickrpropublica

Waiting is an activity that most people receiving healthcare have acutely experienced, whether it’s being put on a list for treatment or simply passing time before a GP visit. Cutting waiting time is something that can drastically improve patients’ experience, and in the past we’ve seen ideas such as HealthSpot use telemedicine to deliver healthcare advice remotely. For accidents and emergencies that require more hands-on attention however, a new platform called ER Wait Watcher enables users to determine which nearby hospital is likely to see them first.

Developed by journalism nonprofit ProPublica, the tool simply asks for those who have had an accident or emergency to enter in their zip code or street name. Using a number of factors — including average reported wait times for each hospital, how far away each hospital is and live Google traffic reports — it then lists which institution is likely to see them first. Users can see how long they can expect to wait on average before they will be seen, sent home, receive pain medication for a broken bone or transferred to their room for more serious injuries. The site works on the premise that the nearest hospital isn’t necessarily the one that will get patients the treatment they need most speedily.

The site does advise patients to call up their hospital for a more accurate estimate, and users currently need to navigate to the website to use it. Are there ways to make this kind of platform more accurate or user-friendly?

Website: www.propublica.org
Contact: www.propublica.org/about/contact

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