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New app helps cut down on emergency room wait times

By Nadine Maeser, nmaeser@wdbj7.com
Published On: Sep 25 2013 10:17:08 PM EDT
Updated On: Sep 25 2013 11:22:22 PM EDT

In an emergency, seconds mean everything.

BLACKSBURG, Va. -

In an emergency, seconds mean everything and now, with just the touch of a button, those people needing help might be able to get it a little faster.

Patients headed to any LewisGale emergency department can now alert the hospital of their arrival and symptoms using a new mobile healthcare app.

Nurses with the LewisGale Regional Health System believe this new technology will cut down on wait times and stress for both the patient and the hospital.

"Being in the ER you never really know what's coming through the doors," said nurse Jennifer Red.

She believes the new smartphone app will help nurses and doctors serve patients better.

"It gives us advance warning so that we can prepare for them so if a special room is needed we can have that open because we know they're coming," she said.

The new app allows patients who are headed to the ER to get a jump start by showing the closest medical facility as well as the wait times.

"When ambulances come through we get a notification from the person driving the ambulance and so we know whats coming in the door then," said nurse Devin LaPuasa. "When people come in through the  registration desk we don't know."

If you're heading to the ER all you have to do is fill out some basic information, describe your symptoms and hit send. The nurses are alerted within seconds.

They then receive a phone call and a fax that details each person's symptoms and information and gets them into the system.

"It doesn't pop them to the front of the line, but it definitely gets us aware of their situation so we can be prepared," said LaPuasa.

LewisGale has only had this app for a little less than two months, but a handful of people have already successfully used it.

WDBJ 7 reached out to Carilion to see if they have, or will be getting a similar app, but we have not heard back.

If someone calls with a major emergency, like a heart attack, the app will tell the person to call 911.

If you'd like to download the app type "iTriage" into the marketplace on your smart phone.

iTriage also provides patients with an array of health information and resources on their smartphone including:

• The average wait time for the nearest LewisGale emergency department
• GPS technology to help locate and get directions to the nearest healthcare facility
• Symptom checker for researching medical concerns
• Information on diseases, conditions and treatment options
• Details on more than 1,000 of the most commonly used over-the-counter and prescribed
medications
• The latest health news and alerts