NewYork-Presbyterian has slashed emergency room waiting times by more than half at its Weill Cornell Medical Centre through the use of its express telehealth service.
 
Average emergency room waiting times for low-acuity patients were 2 to 2 1/2 hours, but the Telehealth Express Care Service can get them in and out, from arrival to discharge, in 35 to 40 minutes.
 
NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center has conducted more than 3000 virtual visits.
 
“Our service allows us to streamline care and workflow,” said Dr Rahul Sharma, emergency physician in chief at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
 
“We remove these patients from the main emergency room so our staff in the main emergency room can focus their attention on more emergent conditions.”
 
In terms of quality and consistency, every patient receives the same screening and triage. A triage nurse asks for the chief complaint and takes vitals, and a nurse practitioner or physician assistant examines the patient to make sure he or she is stable for the express service.
 
Express patients then are sent to rooms where they have video visits with ER physicians who are elsewhere in the health system.
 
“The doctors are New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center faculty members,” Sharma said.
 
“They are our doctors. No outsourcing. They are the same doctors who work in the emergency department, but are on different shifts. They are located two buildings away in a separate room at NewYork-Presbyterian. And they are seeing patients both in our Weill Cornell campus and our Lower Manhattan emergency department downtown.”
 
The express service was launched in July 2016 on the Weill Cornell campus, using Avizia telemedicine carts. A month and a half later the provider expanded the service to its Lower Manhattan hospital campus. It then launched a mobile app allowing patients to see the same physicians from home.
 
“Patients want to be seen quickly and get in and out of the emergency department but we do not want to compromise on quality,” Sharma said.
 
“We look at many quality measures, including return visits, and we solicit patient feedback. The most important thing to us is: Are the patients getting the best care and are they satisfied with us? And from our year in the program, the patients absolutely love it.”