Should There be a @NoWaitapp for Emergency Rooms?

Last Saturday, I was talking with my wife’s aunt, who lives in DC, about a startup I worked on during Pittsburgh Startup Weekend.  This conversation lead me to telling her about the person who came up with the idea for the startup and how he already started a successful startup called NoWait.  I told her about NoWait, and how it allows users to check to local restaurants’ wait times and it allows you to get in line while you’re at your house or in your car so you won’t have to wait when you arrive to the restaurant, hence the name.  To get in line all you need to do is give some basic information about your party.  Then the app will proceed to let you know your place in line, how many people are in front of you, and how long you still have to wait. The only thing you need to do after getting in line is check in with the host once you arrive to the restaurant.  The host will send your phone a text message when your table is ready.

NoWait, does a number of things in the restaurant side of the app, which is available for free, like simplifying hosting, seating more guests, and connecting with customers.  Obviously, this seems like a no-brainer for restaurant owners, because it seems like you can basically get set up on NoWait for the price of a refurbished iPad.  How many more customers would you have to seat to pay off that cost?  I imagine this investment would pay for itself in a few hours.

I’m running long while describing the benefits of NoWait.  This post isn’t suppose to be about NoWait for restaurants.  I’m thinking about Medical NoWait, “What’s the Wait, Doc?”  While talking with my wife’s aunt, she told me about a hospital that runs a commercial in the DC area with the wait times of all of their emergency rooms.  Supposedly, there is a website you’re able to visit to get updated emergency room wait times, but I couldn’t find this site.  In a quick search I was only able to find this 2011 article about a hospital chain, Inova Mount Vernon Hospital in Northern Virginia, which lists wait times for 9 area emergency rooms.  The article also says they have an iPhone app but I can’t find it on the app store.

I couldn’t find any website or app for emergency rooms or MedExpress-type locations for wait times in the Pittsburgh area.  I think people would find this incredibly useful.  Obviously, people in real emergencies wouldn’t use this app they would just go to the nearest ER but how many potential customers go to the ER with non-emergencies like a sprained ankle or the flu.  These people would probably be interested in finding an ER that would be able to take them sooner.  I know a lot of people who always take there kids to Children’s Hospital and they live about an hour away.  I think they would like an app that would allow them to check the wait time and get themselves in line so they won’t have to wait once they arrive.

What’s the other reason you need to wait at the ER for non-emergencies?

Paperwork

The Medical NoWait could solve this problem by giving users the ability to store this information in the app so once you get in line your information will be submitted to the ER along with the reason for coming to the ER.  Thus, eliminating any necessary paperwork once you arrive.  All you would need to do would be to check in with the front desk.

What are the benefits to hospitals or medical professionals?

The benefits to the hospitals are really no different then restaurants simplify the check-in process, treat more patients, and better understand you patient demographics. Earlier, I talked about how people wouldn’t use this in emergency situations but paramedics could use it to notify emergency rooms of incoming patients.

Why stop at ERs?

This system could be implemented at any type of office where wait times could be an issue, like MedExpress.

NoWait could be your one location to have all your medical information that could be easily transferable to any office and avoid all the unnecessary paperwork.  What’s not to like about saving time, lives, and the environment with one app.