SAN FRANCISCO (KNTV/NBC) - There's a new trend taking hold that could take the pain out of your next emergency room visit.
Some hospitals are experimenting with a system that will allow you to make online reservations for a spot in the emergency room. All it takes is a few keyboard strokes.
Just explain your problem, pay a small fee and pick an available time slot.
The new service is available to patients who are not facing major health issues.
"This is for minor things, sprains, sore throats, minor things, very minor things. If you get a cut and think you need stitches, this is absolutely for you," said Jennifer Dearman, a patient care manager at a California hospital.
If you sign up online and your symptoms are serious, a nurse will call you and advise you to get to the emergency room right away.
Because the ER may see a sudden surge in patients, the number of appointments available daily will vary, but you will be notified if doctors can't see you at your appointed time.
"It would actually text you, just like the airline does if the plane is going to be late, that your 2:00 appointment will not be honored in the emergency department and you need to take another slot," Dearman said.
Nurses say the service helps them prepared in advance for a patient's needs and better manage patient flow.
"They know they will be seen in a short time and get the answers to their medical problems much sooner," said Douglas Chin, a physician's assistant.
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