New system proven to reduce wait times and improve patient satisfaction
SOUTHBRIDGE, MA – Harrington HealthCare System now offers an online check-in system for patients who want to be seen in the Southbridge Emergency Department. The new system allows patients to wait in the comfort of their own home until it’s their turn to be seen, allowing for greater patient comfort as well as increased social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new online check-in system provides patients with non-life-threatening illness the ability to wait to receive care in the comfort of their own home instead of in a waiting room with others. Patients can make a reservation to be seen at the Southbridge Emergency Department via smartphone, tablet, or computer at www.harringtonhospital.org. They will have the ability to choose the next available check-in time or a later time that may be more convenient for them. Once a preferred time is selected, patients can opt-in to receive text messages with alerts and updates about the reservation as their scheduled time approaches.
“This new online check-in system allows us to create a better, more convenient experience for our patients who utilize the Southbridge Emergency Department,” said Ed Moore, president of Harrington HealthCare System. “For example, a parent tending to a sick child at home doesn’t have to leave home until it’s close to their reservation time. At the same time, this new system also allows us to operate more efficiently and to further limit gathering of people in the waiting room during the pandemic.”
“In most cases we will strive to see patients who use the online check-in service within about 15 minutes of their scheduled time. Of course our Emergency Department staff must still triage and treat all incoming patients based on the severity of their illness or injury,” said Dr. Peter Antkowiak, Medical Director of Emergency Medicine at Harrington.
“If a patient with a life-threatening condition arrives at the same time as a patient who had a scheduled arrival time, it is always possible that the care of the scheduled patient with a less serious condition may be delayed. That said, we always do everything we can to see patients as close to their online check-in time as possible,” Dr. Antkowiak said.
Moore noted that currently, online check-in will only be available for Harrington’s Emergency Department in Southbridge. The Harrington HealthCare Emergency Department in Webster, which is not as busy as the Southbridge location, will continue to operate as normal, triaging patients as they arrive. (That facility also has special coronavirus precautions in place for patients seeking emergency care, including a separate waiting area for patients with COVID-like symptoms.)
Moore also stressed that visitor policy limitations in place as a precaution against the coronavirus pandemic will still apply to all patients. Currently, patients receiving care in any outpatient setting, including the Emergency Department, may have only one person accompany them and only if it is necessary to do so for the well-being of the patient. All visitors will also be screened for symptoms such as fever or cough and must wear a mask at all times. If waiting areas cannot accommodate all visitors within the guidelines of social distancing, visitors may be asked to wait in their vehicles until the patient is taken to a private exam room.
Harrington HealthCare System is a comprehensive regional healthcare system serving more than 25 communities across south central Massachusetts and northeastern Connecticut. The system includes Harrington Hospital in Southbridge, Harrington HealthCare at Webster and three additional major medical office buildings: Harrington HealthCare at Charlton, Harrington HealthCare at 169, also in Charlton, and Harrington HealthCare at Spencer; Harrington Physician Services, our primary care and multi-specialty physician group; UrgentCare Express at Harrington in Charlton and Oxford; The Cancer Center at Harrington in Southbridge, and the region’s largest Behavioral Health programs for mental health and substance use.