When we need medical attention, we generally have an immediate response: get help and get it quickly. While the co-pay for an emergency room visit is climbing steadily—even in HMOs, a fee can be more than $100—consumers frequently use the ER for non-emergency issues. To the public, any medical event, from a possible heart attack to a sprain means one thing: the local ER. People use the ER for colds, flu, fever, coughs and other symptoms as well as for suspected heart attack, stroke or a major trauma. Sometimes they must wait a long time to be seen.
Well, there is an app for that! Many hospitals now have created applications for download to a smart phone: these apps can tell you the wait time in their emergency room. This does not solve the problem of overuse of the ER (many times the treatment could be properly done in an Urgent Care Center at a lower cost to the consumer), but it does give the consumer the ability to choose which hospital to use.