Demystifying Medicine One Month at a Time

Call Now to Reserve Your Spot in the E.R.

Emergency Rooms are a bellwether of the U.S. Health Care “system.”

I’ve explained in other posts why the E.R. is a tough place to work and a tougher place to be a patient.

Now comes news that some Florida-based hospitals are piloting an E.R. reservation system. The goals are intuitive:

  1. Minimize patient waiting times, thereby
  2. increase patient satisfaction.
  3. Improve the working and waiting environments for staff and patients, and
  4. boast about the new idea, providing the for-profit hospital chain (Tenet) a marketing advantage.

Ding! The old-fashioned way.

All it costs is $9.99. No joke. You have to put the money down on a credit card to reserve your spot, which guarantees that you’ll be seen within fifteen minutes of the appointment time that you are given.

And what If you’re not seen in fifteen minutes? Money back guarantee!

So these hospitals are going to let us reserve a spot in the often horridly long E.R. queue? That’s ten bucks I’d be glad to spend. What’s not to like?

According to the article, the system works well for those whose health situations are not true emergencies. But for those with serious issues like heart attacks or strokes, waiting for your reservation time can be a big mistake.

“Time is tissue,” we are taught in medical school.

Come to think of it, isn’t making an appointment for the E.R. kind of like what you’re supposed to do at your doctor’s office?

If you can make an appointment in the E.R for the same day and be seen in fifteen minutes of that time guaranteed, why bother with a primary care office that makes you wait anywhere from two to six weeks for an appointment with your doctor?

Makes me wonder…


  1. WarmSocks

    From my house, the nearest ER is an hour away. If I could have phoned to make an appointment as I was pulling out of the driveway at 9pm with a kid who probably just broke his arm, that would have been $10 well spent. It would’ve been great to not sit there 45 minutes after we arrived, waiting to be taken back to a cubicle, then have to wait another hour to be seen.

    Instead of the option of making appointments in the ER, what we need are more urgent-care centers (with extended hours).

  2. Emily

    Wait, I’m confused. Why couldn’t they just open an acute care clinic (as many places have attached to their ERs) and have it take appointments?

  3. Jeremiah

    This directly addresses (and monetizes) the core issue of people choosing to use an ED as their primary source of medical care. Retail clinics helps take some of the pressure off. Still if your “customers” refuse to change their habits, then the “business” has to adapt. While my background is not in medicine, I have watched this grind companies into the dust. Medicine has the benefit of being a honest to goodness need. Still better to adapt and evolve than complain.

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