Health Care

May 11, 2013

Wesley app streamlines ER check-in for patients

Wesley Medical Center recently launched a new mobile app for patients to check in to the emergency room ahead of their arrival.

Wesley Medical Center recently launched a new mobile app for patients to check in to the emergency room ahead of their arrival.

The app is an extension of the website that was launched around Thanksgiving last year.

What Wesley officials found after launching the website was that about 60 percent of users were accessing the site through mobile devices.

“Rather than creating a mobile-optimized site, we chose to have a mobile app to simplify the process,” said Paul Petitte, vice president for marketing and public relations. “The Wichita mobile market is exploding, keeping and even passing the national pace. We know that a lot of people use their smartphones instead of a computer more and more.”

About 1,000 people have used the site since it was launched, Petitte said. Data for the number of app downloads is not yet available.

The app is available for iPhone and Android.

Petitte said he thinks apps such as the check-in one are part of a growing trend for hospitals and other health care providers.

“We use smartphones to buy tickets, bank and pay bills and this follows suit,” Petitte said.

“It allows the consumer to use their mobile device to give us a heads up and alert us they’re on the way. Health care is going toward more consumer-friendly technology, and devices are making health care more robust. It’s a great benefit to us and our patients.”

Petitte said that patients should not expect that checking in with the app ahead of time will mean they will immediately see a physician on arrival.

“Under hospital guidelines, we still see patients in order of severity,” he said. “If someone comes in with a heart attack, the person with minor trauma may still have to wait. But it alerts the staff on their condition, the symptoms and allows staff to better prepare for their arrival. … We want to make it a better experience and this is one way we can do that.”

The app, which is free, allows users to check in to any of Wesley’s four emergency departments: Wesley Medical Center, Wesley Pediatric Emergency Room, Galichia Heart Hospital and Wesley West.

It also includes a description of each location and map and advice on when to go to the ER.

The app is compliant with federal health privacy laws, Petitte said.

Bruce Rowley, CEO of RSA Marketing Services, which helped develop the app, said his firm is working to sell a version to hospitals in Washington, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Colorado.

The idea was initially built on a platform from iTriage, a company out of Colorado. The iTriage platform has many components, including symptom checkers and pharmacy finders, but Rowley said they wanted to find a way to make the platform simpler for users.

“While iTriage is helpful and comprehensive, when you want to check in to the ER, you don’t want to have to download an app and then click through seven pages to get to where you want to be,” Rowley said.

Rowley said his firm’s app sends a fax to the emergency department a user selects in order to get the information to them.

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