(Photography by Kevin Van Paassen)
The first few minutes of a patient’s arrival at an emergency department (ED) are often stressful and confusing. Sunnybrook’s ED has developed an innovative way to streamline the first stage of patient contact with the hospital and improve the experience through the use of a self check-in kiosk.
“Self check-in kiosks are something we’re seeing more in retail and travel,” says Dr. Zuhair Alsharafi, interim chief of Emergency Services. “With planning and research, we figured out how to make this concept work for our ED patients.”
When patients arrive in the ED, signage and staff direct them to one of two kiosks where they can quickly check in. This includes swiping their health card and identifying their primary symptom from a list of common complaints. Patients then receive a how-to guide with next steps and a number, which they can track via electronic signs. Hospital security and volunteers are there to guide patients if needed.
The kiosks were developed at Sunnybrook, and a 10-week trial showed that there was significantly less time to initial patient-staff contact than without the kiosks.
“Our results were impressive. We saw that the average time to first contact with a patient was reduced from 15.2 minutes to 1.7 minutes,” says Dr. Alsharafi. “The 90th percentile showed a reduction from 31 minutes to 2.7 minutes with the kiosk intervention.”
Surveys of patients and visitors indicated that the kiosk was easy to use, helped them feel calmer and informed, and increased their privacy. Moreover, surveys of nursing staff revealed that adding the kiosks improved the efficiency of triaging patients.
The initiative was awarded a Leading Practice honour from Accreditation Canada, the body that evaluates how well hospitals operate. Going forward, more language options will be added, a customized version will be developed for paramedics, and a high-risk patient alert is currently in the research phase.