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Billboards and Business Intelligence

The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog shares the story of an Ohio health system that publishes its Emergency Room wait times on highway billboards:

Akron General Health System in Ohio went one step further last year and began providing live streaming of wait times on highway billboards for two freestanding emergency rooms it built — one about a 15-minute drive north and one the same distance west — of its main downtown campus. It will soon start showing times for a third auxiliary ER in Lodi, Ohio; wait times for that one are on the hospital website.

Jack Mitstifer, chair of emergency medicine at Akron, tells the Health Blog that at first the hospital system also showed wait times for its main downtown campus, but stopped doing so when it became clear the  times shown “didn’t reflect reality.” The downtown center is a level one trauma center designated for stroke and chest pain care, and a third of its patients arrive by helicopter or ambulance. Those patients are seen immediately, which drives the average wait time down, “but the people in the waiting room don’t see it,” says Mitstifer. 

I'd be very curious to see where the data for the billboard is pulled - directly from a clinical system or if it is pulled from a business intelligence system. 

The greater point, in my mind is, organizations have data unique to them that gives them a competitive advantage. Whether they trumpet that data loudly on highway billboards or use it to offer lower prices or better service, it must first be discovered and nurtured before it can be used. 

You don't typically think of healthcare providers jockeying for advantage against rival providers. As this article indicates, they do.