'InQuickER' helping patients at Spalding Regional

Residents in the southern portion of Henry County, who need medical care, do not have to endure long waits in an emergency room, thanks to a new program at an area hospital.

Spalding Regional Medical Center recently unveiled its "InQuickER" service, which allows individuals to hold a place at the emergency room online, while waiting at their homes.

"We know people want more convenience and predictability in the ER experience," said John Quinn, Spalding Regional's chief executive officer. "With this service, users enjoy the convenience of choosing where they wait, and a projected time to see a health-care professional in the emergency room."

The hospital serves the health-care needs of Spalding, Butts, Pike, and Lamar counties, as well as many residents in Locust Grove, in Henry County.

Kathleene Smith is the manager of marketing and public relations for Spalding Regional Medical Center, a 160-bed, acute-care hospital in Griffin. She said the hospital began using InQuickER for the public, on Aug. 24, due to an increased number of emergency patients in recent years.

"Our ER numbers are higher than many of the [other] metro Atlanta hospitals," said Smith.

The InQuickER system, she said, does not affect the wait times of other emergency room patients, and does not allow patients using it to "cut" in front of others.

"InQuickER offers users with non-life threatening conditions the ability to choose where they wait, and the convenience of receiving a projected treatment time," said Smith. "All InQuickER users receive their projected treatment time online for the ER, and choose to wait in the comfort of their own homes, rather than the emergency room.

"Examples of non-life threatening medical conditions are those for which a patient would want to go to the ER, instead of his primary physician," she added. "For example, patients who develop a condition after their physician's office has closed, or on weekends, or when they cannot get in to see their physician in a timely manner, might use this system for our ER, such as a possible injury or a twisted knee. Many people develop a condition or have an injury and worry about waiting to see their physician."

Smith said the hospital is working to get the word out to the public, about the new program. "It's a matter of people knowing what [InQuickER] is, and how to use it," she continued. "We've had steady increases of usage on it, but it's still relatively new. People have to hear it, or see it, and then understand what it is, but it's simple to use."

InQuickER patients, said Smith, gain access to the service by paying a $9.99 fee, completing an online form, and arriving at a projected treatment time.

"You will be seen by a health professional in the emergency room within 15 minutes, or InQuickER will refund your online fee in full," she said. "The new service is only intended for individuals who have non-life threatening medical conditions."

Smith said an increased demand, and decreased hospital capacity, are creating traffic jams in ER waiting rooms across the country. A growing number of hospitals, she said, are utilizing InQuickER to streamline operations, while focusing on patient satisfaction.

Spalding Regional is the only hospital on the Southside, currently using the new system, according to Smith. InQuickER is in use at North Fulton Regional Hospital, in Roswell, and Atlanta Medical Center, Smith said.

She said InQuickER has safeguards in place, to prevent people with potentially life-threatening medical conditions from using the system. "Individuals requiring immediate medical treatment are directed to go immediately to the nearest emergency department, or call 911," said Smith. "Patients with urgent and life-threatening emergencies are always given priority in Spalding Regional's ER."

For more information, visit www.spaldingregional.com.