KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hospital Updates: ERs Try To Shorten Waits, Florida Children’s Hospital To Join With Johns Hopkins

To attract patients, hospitals are increasingly posting wait times for their emergency rooms "on billboards, websites, social media outlets like Twitter and in text messages," The Salt Lake Tribune reports. "It's a competitive strategy, but also a tool for bending the wait-time curve and, hopefully, improving patient care, said Mary Joe Jones, chief clinical nursing officer at St. Mark's Hospital in Salt Lake City."

Officials say this is a tool to encourage "appropriate" use of the services. But, the "fear is that patients with serious emergencies, say chest pains, will drive longer distances for care mistakenly thinking they can get faster treatment when, in fact, under the rules of triage such patients are seen immediately at any ER, said David Seaberg, an ER doctor and member of the board of directors of the American College of Emergency Physicians. ... Yet another measure of efficiency is an emergency room's length of stay, from triage to discharge" (Stewart, 7/21).

Chicago Tribune: ER competition in Lake County, Ill., is getting stiffer as a new urgent care clinic has recently won state approval and a Wisconsin hospital wants to attract ER patients from northern Illinois. "Milwaukee-based Aurora Health Care has announced that it will apply for Level 2 trauma designation for its Aurora Medical Center in Kenosha, which would allow Lake County ambulances to bring certain types of injured patients across the state line to that facility" (Cameron, 7/21).

St. Petersburg Times: In the meantime, All Children's Hospital in Florida is joining forces with Johns Hopkins health system to expand training and research in the Tampa-bay area. "No money is changing hands, and Florida residents will remain a majority on All Children's governing board, ensuring local control, hospital officials said. … Meanwhile, All Children's, which gets 70 percent of its revenue from Medicaid, gains a powerful ally at a time when government reimbursements are being cut, and health care is in flux. ... While a handful of Johns Hopkins faculty and administrators will eventually work at All Children's, there won't be widespread exchange of either patients or physicians" (Martin and Hundley, 7/21).

Earlier, related KHN story: Hospital Tries 'Speed Dating' To Attract Doctors, Patients (Gold, 5/18)

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