What started as a class assignment for Shenandoah University graduate Brianne Casey is improving patients’ experience at hospitals and urgent care clinics.
Casey created a website and smart phone app called Checked In that publishes patient wait times for emergency rooms, urgent care facilities, primary providers and specialists, as well as dentists’ offices. The app uses geolocation to pull up all nearby medical facilities in a chosen category and the patient can see wait times to get a better idea of where they should go for health care. It also provides medical providers with employee performance trends and patient trends.
The idea came to her when she was researching the connection between wait times and patient satisfaction as part of an assignment in a nursing course at Shenandoah. She found that patients don’t generally mind waiting if they have an accurate expectation of how long they will wait—and get that estimated wait time before they arrive.
“If you establish an expectation and meet the expectation, people are at minimum satisfied. So it improves the patient satisfaction,” Casey said. “A lot of hospitals don’t think that’s very important, but it really is important because it’s linked with patient compliance.”
And a happy patient is more likely to follow doctors’ instructions, such as lose a little weight, cut down on the sugar, or keep up with therapy exercises, she said.
Already, the app publishes wait times for 30,000 emergency rooms and other urgent care facilities, including Inova hospitals and StoneSprings Hospital Center.
Casey pointed to a recent situation where the Checked In app could have helped patients and hospitals. In early December, Fair Oaks Hospital closed its emergency room because of an infrastructure hiccup. Casey said that meant Inova Fairfax Hospital was slammed. “I thought, man, I wish my app was better advertised because it would help them know where else to go. It would’ve helped disperse the overflow to the other hospitals if people had known.”
StoneSprings, where she’s works, does post their live wait times on a sign along Rt. 50. “They are doing everything that my research has come up with. They are in the vast minority.”
Casey, 34, credits the idea behind the app to her nursing professor at Shenandoah University, Pamela Webber, who first challenged her to tackle a problem in the nursing profession and come up with a solution that hadn’t been tried before.
“Brianne took this requirement and ran with it,” Webber said. “Not only has she helped streamline nurses moving patients through health systems, she’s given patients the invaluable gift of time.”
After Webber helped shape the research question, Casey said she became obsessed with the project. She leaned on her experience in her previous career in broadcasting to think about how to equip patients with more information and empower them to decide when and where they get treatment.
“For a while I worked at the registration desk of a trauma center and I just felt like it was so stupid that patients couldn’t look up and compare wait times,” she said. “I think good communication is the missing link to good patient-doctor relationships.”
Casey, who grew up near the border of Loudoun and Fauquier counties, sold her show horse to come up with the $25,000 needed to get the business off the ground. She hired a developer in Pakistan and her dad foot the bill for a patent attorney.
Casey doesn’t expect her app venture will ever replace her career as a nurse. The app is free to download, and she only charges medical providers that want her to set up a tablet with the software.
“My goal is to just get the information out there as quickly and easily as possible,” she said. “I have a day job that I love. No matter what happens with this app, I want to be an ER nurse for the rest of my life.”
Download Checked In on your iPhone or Android phone. Learn more at checkedin.tech.