Virtual ER Cuts Down on Wait Times at MedStar

A Washington, D.C., hospital is using technology to cut down on emergency room waiting time.

Dr. Ethan Booker helped develop Tele-triage at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. From a command center in another part of the hospital, Booker can virtually visit patients who show up at the ER.

“The idea is that the patient will get seen by a doctor faster and will get blood work done, radiology done, and so by the time we have an open room, everything's resulted and it expedites the care,” nurse Shannon Silsby said.

Since it began last year, Tele-triage has treated 15,000 patients. The hospital estimates ER wait times have been cut by more than 26 percent.

MedStar isn't the only healthcare facility in the area using technology to make medicine more efficient. In the spring, Maryland Physicians Care rolled out an app with the capability to let patients text and video chat with ER doctors. The app allows members to ask the doctors questions and determine whether a trip to an emergency room is necessary.

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