Tool cuts wait times at pediatric hospital’s after-hours clinics

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Parents looking to bring sick children to one of five pediatric after-hours clinics run by Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt are leveraging online scheduling to avoid long waits.

In fact, the software has cut in half the waiting times at Children’s Hospital’s five after-hours locations.

The tool, called Skip the Wait from patient engagement vendor Clockwise.MD, enables parents to view estimated wait times at the clinics to help them determine the best scheduling options.

“Often, we have had multiple families waiting in their cars and rushing the door when the clinic opens to be first in line,” said Chris Westbrook, director of Children’s Hospital off-site and after-hours clinics. “This real-time feature will allow families to wait at home and receive an alert about 20 minutes before the expected time to be called back to the clinic for their visit.”

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The software—accessed through the Children’s Hospital website—leverages an algorithm to measure time and predict how busy a clinic is, while providing a screen detailing wait-time estimates for each patient. The after-hours clinics open at 6:30 p.m., and the tool starts to estimate arrivals at 7 p.m., which gives the system 30 minutes to process patient flow.

“It has helped reduce crowding in the waiting rooms,” added Westbrook. “Patients who use the Clockwise software wait in our waiting room about half as long as those who follow the traditional walk-in method.”

According to Westbrook, the tool was implemented after Children’s Hospital’s five after-hours clinics reported increasing requests from parents about current wait times, both as they were checking in at a clinic or before they arrived.

“This software allows patients in the waiting room, as well as those who look online, to see current, accurate wait times,” he concludes.

As a result, Skip the Wait is being considered for use by other Vanderbilt clinics.

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