The emotional turmoil that an emergency room visit stirs for an individual cannot be compared to a luxurious stay at a five-star hotel. However, both institutions share a desire to increase the efficiency of backend operations and improve overall client satisfaction. Recently, emergency rooms have become overcrowded– a time when waiting-room patients outnumber accessible resources like providers or beds– leading to frustration of patients and staff who are overworking themselves under intense pressure. In fact, wait times are a primary aspect of patient dissatisfaction . Overcrowding has transpired due to emergency departments widening their clinical capabilities, growing demand, and access blocks, which can be defined as when admitted ER patients are essentially denied a hospital bed for an excess of eight hours due to scarcity of inpatient beds . Hotels’ effective utilization of queue management and mobile technology should be translated to emergency rooms and urgent cares, especially after being overwhelmed with patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mobile technology has collected substantial momentum due to the exponential advancement of devices and applications; hotels, aiming to reap all of the benefits technology has to offer, have jumped onto the bandwagon. Industry pioneers such as Marriott and Hilton have introduced new features such as mobile check-in processes and access to digital floor plans. These features provide customers with the most personalized experience possible and allow employees to concentrate on providing the highest levels of service .
Providing a standardized excellent experience while catering to diversified needs and preferences is a mission that hotels and hospitals seemingly share. Unfortunately, unless a client is a repeat customer of that hotel brand, or a patient is a repeat visitor to the emergency room, it is difficult to predict and satisfy individuals’ desires upon the first interaction. The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) details two essential elements that foster one’s acceptance of a particular technology– perceived usefulness and an easy-to-learn interface . TAM postulates that their ultimate level of acceptance of newly instilled technology will be correlated with users’ perceptions of user-friendliness, usefulness, and attitude . Hotels have successfully adopted TAM to facilitate the effective installation of technology; therefore, TAM should be at the forefront of hospitals’ minds when implementing new technologies into their emergency rooms, just as hotels’ goals are always in line with pleasing the customer.
According to the CDC, just over 40% of emergency room patients were seen within 15 minutes of checking in . However, that means that 60% of patients are forced to experience much longer wait times –– not even including the time the patient waits to check in –– which, when dealing with emergency situations, could be the difference between life and death. Hospitals should install mobile technology in which family members can register the patient’s family histories, new health updates, and other concerns immediately upon arriving at the health center through a self-check-in kiosk or mobile app that can be instantly prompted for use once emergency responders arrive at the scene.
Urgent Cares should also aim to install similar technologies within their operations since family members can instantly upload information from near or afar, using cloud-based technology, while on their way to the center. Similar to hotel check-in, urgent cares still allow for verbal interactions with clients and patients to transpire, engendering numerous positive effects; therefore, artificial technology and intelligence should be instilled with a careful emphasis on maintaining a certain percentage of human interaction. The technology should be used to facilitate backend operational efficiency solely for the younger user demographics that are easily able to use it, noting that the percentage of users with technological experience will be steadily increasing into the future. Hospitals can look at the mobile shift as a worthwhile investment to tap into now as they will be able to lock down intricate details, sooner capitalizing on the investment and capturing market share– the portion of a market controlled by an organization– as patients will express higher satisfaction levels.
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