Emergency rooms in competition

Ocala.com | October 7 – The emergency department, despite the chaos that can ensue there, is the front door of any hospital.

“Insist on Munroe Regional,” one ad reads.

“Call 9-1-1 and ask to go to Ocala,” reads a competing ad.

With the main emergency rooms just across the street from each other, the ER is where the battle for market share dominance in Ocala has centered in recent months.

Ocala Health System, the HCA-owned system that includes Ocala Regional Medical Center and West Marion Community, launched an aggressive marketing blitz in the spring touting low wait times at its emergency rooms.

At Munroe Regional Medical Center, which also has an additional emergency department at TimberRidge, staffers have done everything they can to make sure patients who want to go to Munroe ER can go to a Munroe ER. In the past year, the hospital hasn’t had to divert any ER patients to other hospitals.

More than half of a hospital’s admissions come in through the emergency department. While the ER can be a money-losing service line if only sick mildly sick patients clog the system, getting sicker patients through the door is vital for profits.

In 2009, the Hospital Corporation of American passed down orders to member hospitals to cut ER wait times. Ocala Health’s digital billboard ads went up in December.

The wait times displayed on the boards are a four-hour rolling average updated every 30 minutes. The time marks how long it takes from arrival to first speaking with a medical professional. Potential patients can also text “ER” to 23000 to get wait times.

Read the full article on Ocala.com.

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