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CHECK YOUR DOCTORS' AND HOSPITALS' WAIT TIME OR FIND A WALK-IN APPOINTMENT TODAY. BECAUSE YOUR DOCTOR CARES URGENT CARE ER

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Patients can monitor doc office waiting times online now 
From: Northwest Herald, The (Crystal Lake, IL)

October 3, 2010
Author: JAMI KUNZER jkunzer@nwherald.com

Section: Lifestyle

Estimated printed pages: 3

Article Text:Need immediate care? You might want to check Twitter first.

Centegra Health System is now tweeting the wait times at its Immediate Care Centers in Crystal Lake, Huntley, McHenry and Woodstock.

The effort is one of several steps hospitals and physicians are taking to let patients know just how long they’ll be waiting to see a doctor.

Centegra also has joined a physician’s efforts to put the wait times at hospitals and doctor’s offices throughout the country on a single website, www.medwaittime.com.

“The main complaint patients have when they visit a doctor is time spent in the waiting room,” said Dr. Vishal Mehta, the site’s creator and an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine physician with Fox Valley Orthopedics, based in Geneva.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “we can run behind.

”Physicians can see 30 patients a day, he said. Patients call from home or from an emergency room with an injury, and they’re added in, he said. “Before you know it, we’re an hour behind.

”At www.medwaittime.com, participating doctors, hospitals and urgent care centers provide real-time wait information. The site also allows potential patients to find the closest doctors and those accepting appointments that day.

That way, even if a patient ends up waiting, they’ll at least be more prepared, Mehta said.

And hopefully, the information will help defuse any anxiety, he said.

“This is something we hear every day from patients, ‘Can you please call us if you’re running late?’” Mehta said. “The answer has always been, ‘No,’ and we feel bad about it. This is a natural solution to an age-old problem.”

Like Centegra’s Twitter account, the website can be accessed by smartphone or computer.

It might not be as helpful if you’re already on your way, said Chris Stack of Crystal Lake, who recently saw a doctor for a torn ligament.

Still, he said, “It’s better to know than to not know .

Patients accessing the website have told Mehta that it allows them to run a couple errands or get a cup of coffee instead of sitting in a waiting room.“

It’d definitely be nice (to know),” said Dana Sparks of Round Lake. “A lot of times I get to the doctor’s office on time or early and end up waiting 45 minutes to an hour.”

The Twitter page offers another way for Centegra to connect with the community, spokeswoman Kim Kubiak said.

“We understand patients have a choice in their healthcare and this is one way we can let the public know we’re looking out for them, their families and their busy schedules,” she said.

The wait time posted on Twitter is defined as the “door-to-treatment” time, she said, or the time it takes for a patient to check in and be seen by a nurse, physician’s assistant or doctor.

Mercy Health System, which has immediate care centers in Woodstock and McHenry, has no intentions at this point to follow suit or join Mehta’s website.

Mercy launched a campaign in 2007 to keep wait times at 30 minutes, and has been successful with that effort, said Shawn Davenport, clinical director for Mercy McHenry Medical Center.

That mark was met 96 percent of the time this year in McHenry and 87 percent of the time this year in Woodstock, he said. The health system’s immediate care centers also expanded holiday hours to be more accessible to patients, he said. The centers are open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Waiting times online

• At www.medwaittime.com, participating doctors and hospitals throughout the country provide real-time wait information

.• To view wait times at Centegra Health System’s Immediate Care Centers in Crystal Lake, Huntley, McHenry and Woodstock, go towww.twitter.com/chswaittimes. Centegra’s wait times are also available at www.medwaittime.com.

Copyright 2010, Northwest Herald, The (Crystal Lake, IL). All Rights Reserved.
Record Number: e3f705de97e93ca17fffc64e8e4441ca7d1f52