As one of the few remaining not-for-profit healthcare systems in Northern California, NorthBay Healthcare has a long tradition as the premier health care provider in Upper Solano County. NorthBay operates hospitals in Fairfield and Vacaville, as well as a 55 physician multispecialty group. Of particular interest to the business community, NorthBay offers a provider owned HMO, Western Health Advantage (WHA) and an occupational medicine program. Staffed by physicians with specialized training in occupational medicine, NorthBay Occupational Health works closely with employers to promote a healthy workforce and reduce costs associated with on-the-job injuries.
We’ve Got ‘InQuicker at VacaValley’
A soft opening began this week for a new program designed to get folks with low-level emergency care needs in and out of the Emergency Department at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital as quickly as possible.
Called “InQuicker at VacaValley,” the program allows patients to register online and wait at home until just before their appointment time.
“It’s part of our effort to provide exceptional service to our community,” explains Elnora Cameron, vice president of strategic development.
Appointments will be offered between 3 and 10:30 p.m. seven days a week, says Sarah Jewel, director of Business Development, who worked with a team from the hospital to develop the program with InQuicker, a company out of Nashville that provides the scheduling software to emergency departments in more than 300 hospitals nationwide.
“Our goal is to have the patient seen by a provider within 15 minutes of their appointment time. And although it’s impossible to predict how long something will take, it is our goal to have the patient in and out within an hour,” says Sandy Bauman, clinical manager for Emergency Services.
“We have the capability at VacaValley Hospital,” explains Sandy. “We can’t do this at NorthBay’s Emergency Department because we’re at capacity with the current volume of patients but we can make a difference at VacaValley, and perhaps that will ultimately reduce some of the burden on NorthBay as well.”
If something does come up that inundates the emergency room, the InQuicker software can quickly send out notices to patients to reschedule them, giving staff breathing room to address the crisis of the moment.
“It’s the perfect service for a parent whose child is growing progressively sicker during the evening,” explains Sarah. “Mom doesn’t want to wait until morning, but dreads the idea of dragging her child to an emergency room where she could be waiting quite awhile. This will allow the child to stay at home in a comfortable setting and still be seen by a physician without a long wait at the hospital.”
The patient fills out a form online with basic information and selects their desired appointment time. This information is immediately relayed to the charge nurse who reviews the information to ensure it is appropriate for the patient to wait at home.
“We used a ‘Lean’ process to set it up, and worked with our Performance Excellence team to make sure it had an ideal design and workflow, both from operations and the patient experience,” says Sarah. “The staff was intimately involved in developing it.”
Dedicated staff will take the lead in managing the program, which officially starts April 1.
“These folks understand what it means to give patients a really good experience,” says Sarah. “That’s the goal.”