When the dull ache in Rachel Scott’s arm grew more intense and her hand grew numb, she knew she needed to go to a doctor, but she was juggling a hectic schedule and her children had afternoon practices.
So the Vacaville mom went online to NorthBay.org and scheduled a 7 p.m. appointment in NorthBay VacaValley Hospital’s Emergency Department. Within an hour of her appointed time, she was x-rayed, treated and checked out, thanks to NorthBay Healthcare’s InQuicker program.
Given the fact she had a 12- and 13-year-old with her, she was relieved to be on her way so soon. “When I walked in, they took me right back and took care of me,” she recalled. “I’ve never had such a quick experience at any hospital emergency department.”
Unveiled in the spring for patients with low-level emergency care needs, usage of InQuicker has soared, leading Emergency Room managers to add hours daily.
Morning appointments are now offered at 2, 6 and 9 a.m., and afternoon/evening appointments are taken at 1 p.m., and between 3 and 10:30 p.m., seven days a week.
The goal is to have the patient seen by a provider within 15 minutes of their appointment time and to have the patient in and out within an hour.
In the first three months, nearly 200 patients registered through InQuicker, with 100 percent indicating they would recommend the service to family and friends. “It’s part of our effort to provide a ‘Wow!’ patient experience,” explains Elnora Cameron, vice president of strategic development.
“Our goal is to have the patient seen by a provider within 15 minutes of their appointment time,” says Sarah Jewel, director of business development who designed the program with InQuicker, a company out of Nashville that provides scheduling software to emergency departments in more than 300 hospitals nationwide.
“And although it’s impossible to predict how long something will take, it is our goal to have the patient in and out within an hour,” says Sandy Piedra, director of Emergency Services.
“We can’t do this at NorthBay Medical Center’s Emergency Department in Fairfield because we’re at capacity with the current volume of patients. But, we are making a difference now at VacaValley, and perhaps that will ultimately reduce some of the waiting time at NorthBay as well,” explains Sandy.
If something does come up that inundates the emergency room, the InQuicker software can quickly send out notices to patients to reschedule them, giving staff breathing room to address the crisis of the moment.
“It’s the perfect service for a parent whose child is growing progressively sicker during the evening,” explains Sarah. “Mom doesn’t want to wait until morning, but dreads the idea of dragging her child to an emergency room where she could be waiting quite awhile. This will allow the child to stay at home in a comfortable setting and still be seen by a physician without a long wait at the hospital.”
The patient fills out a form online with basic information and selects their desired appointment time. This information is immediately relayed to the charge nurse who reviews the information to ensure it is appropriate for the patient to wait at home.
For Rachel, the quick turnaround made a huge difference. “I’d definitely recommend it to my family and friends,” she said.