A suburban Boston hospital has introduced a new way for patients to avoid long emergency room waits -- texting.
MetroWest Medical Center has launched the state's first texting program that allows potential patients to find out ER wait times before making the trip to the hospital.
The hospital began the service last week in hopes of building its market share and improving ER performance -- and by extension, patient satisfaction.
Since that time, people have sent in more than 450 text requests from their cell phones for wait times at the medical center's emergency rooms at Framingham Union Hospital and Leonard Morse in Natick. Average wait times as of yesterday afternoon were 24 minutes and 6 minutes, respectively. The medical center measures wait times from when patients check in to when they see a doctor.
Chief executive Andrei Soran said the hospital plans to measure how many patients actually come in to the ER after texting and whether the program increases volume and satisfaction.
"We're trying to promote better customer service and show people they can be better served by staying (at a hospital) in their own community," he said.
To use the service, patients should text 63311 to 437-411. The ER wait times will be texted back immediately.
In a life-threatening emergency, however, always call 911.
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|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
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