Pagers in the waiting room

Hospital and physician clinics are handing out pagers to patients and their families to let them know when the doctor is ready for them, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (which predictably compares the practice to Outback Steakhouse and Chili’s.)

But pagers won’t solve the underlying problem of long waiting times, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) reminds us.

“We basically take advantage of manufacturing and industrial engineering principles of supply and demand, and help them understand more about how they could tweak their schedules in ways that might make a difference in their patient flow,” …said [IHI VP Patricia Rutherford]. “Then, you might not need these pagers, because the wait isn’t so long.”

January 3, 2006

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