All ED patients go through triage, when a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner performs a medical screening exam. Those who are judged to be in stable condition with no life-threatening injuries or symptoms are given the option of seeing an emergency room physician via a videoconference in a private room.
“All express care patients get the same initial screening as all emergency room patients. Then, after that, they get immediate one-on-one time with a NewYork-Presbyterian physician, in addition to a follow-up call from of our registered nurses,” says Dr. Sharma.
Average time from check-in to checkout is 30 to 40 minutes. That sounds impossibly quick until you realize that the program is meant only for patients with minor complaints. As a result, doctors and nurses are now able to see the sickest patients sooner, says Dr. Sharma, who emphasizes that Digital Express Care is for patients with mild complaints — flu-like symptoms, minor cuts, a sprain — rather than for more serious issues such as chest or abdominal pain or life-threatening trauma.
“The point is not to just to have patients in and out sooner. Every patient is important and we must ensure that they all receive the highest quality care,” says Dr. Sharma. “But for the ones who are not particularly ill, it’s a great option. Patients tell us that it feels like something out of The Jetsons. They’re ecstatic about it.”
Digital Express Care began in July 2016 by covering the ED four hours a day. Now, it is available 16 hours a day, from 8 a.m. to midnight all week, and has expanded to cover NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital as well.