ER Check-In Via Electronic Kiosk

Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas is the nation’s first hospital to have electronic kiosks for ER check-in. The goal is to speed the patient registration process and delivery of care, and reduce costs. Looks like a win-win situation. Just hope it doesn’t go all The Tower on you.

[via NBC]


Edit Your Comment

  1. faust1200 says:

    “If you are experiencing paralysis in your arms and hands touch here.”

  2. banned says:

    If it works 1/2 as well as the voting machines, I’ll be impressed.

  3. e10 says:

    Similar to that seen in the Mike Judge film “Idiocracy”. Which, by the way, is excellent.

  4. B Tex says:

    Parkland is in a “diverse” part of town where folks mostly don’t speak english as a native language. It probably saves a lot of time trying to figure out what’s wrong with them.

  5. Lordstrom says:

    Is there a bleeding crackhead option?

  6. asherchang says:

    @e10: well, there it was like a mcdonald’s cash register.

  7. ChewySquirrel says:

    Strange, first hospital in the nation? My local hospital has had a very similar system for a while…

  8. evil_doer420 says:

    Then daddy touched me here!

  9. r81984 says:

    I was thinking the same thing.

    Idiocracy become more real every day.

  10. ptkdude says:

    @faust1200: They can do so with their nose, or with “that certain part of the male anatomy”. Thank god for Enzyte!

  11. NoNamesLeft says:

    For some reason, I think republicans will always get treated first with this new system.

  12. MudMt says:

    If it speeds up things I’ll be happy. Last year me and my brother had to in the lobby filling out paperwork while his THROAT was swelling shut from a bad medication reaction. Ridculous.

  13. lore says:

    Isn’t this sort of system subject to abuse? If you want to be seen first, just set the pain level at 10 and they’ll probably bump you ahead of the man with the bleeding arm (since he probably doesn’t feel the pain there anymore) and the woman with the allergic reaction who can’t breathe through her swollen esophagus.

  14. Xenuite says:

    I just watched “Idiocracy”. Its coming true…
    And I find it funny that people are pissed with the mechanical voice on the phone for IT support and stuff, but when its their life on the line they don’t care.

  15. levenhopper says:

    @lore: Good point…

  16. Ponygirl says:

    @e10: That is what I was going to say, but I was busy ‘batin.

  17. Thrust says:

    @e10: It has electrolytes… It’s what plants crave.

    I have severe athsma and allergies to cats. If I’m around a cat for greater than fifteen minutes I need my inhaler or I die. If I’m around them for an hour or longer, I need a stronger treatment called a nebulizer, or again I die. It’s a VERY simple thing. They put the airflow on, give me the mask, and put a small vial of concentrated salbutomal in a small part of the mask. Five minutes with the nurse, one minute with the doctor to confirm what the nurse already knows, fifteen to thirty minutes alone just breathing in the stuff, two more minutes with the nurse. So simple, less than fourty-five minutes and I’d go from suffocation and turning blue, back to normal. Simple right?

    I’ve had waits of 6 hours or more just to see the nurse (3 hour average), three times I’d been passed out on the waiting room floor, once stopped breathing, and twice been unable to tell the nurse what’s wrong because I had literally no breath.

    Yes, I’m not actually bleeding, but death from suffocation is just as permanent as one from a gunshot. I’d fix up the stuff myself if they’d let me, but every time I’m in emergency some fat bitch with the runs, a drunk with a broken arm, and/or usually an elderly woman with a rash will get helped first.

  18. TedOnion says:

    To begin please select your insurance carrier:

  19. LTS! says:

    Walking into the ER will simply put you line with the others. If you are facing a dire medical emergency then hop a ride with an ambulance.

    There are a lot of systems being designed to speed the patient process not only within the ER, but throughout an entire medical system. The problem is that it will take awhile for medical systems to adopt these new applications. The biggest issue is that communication from various systems and doctors within a hospital to one another is horrendous. Many times in order to get information a doctor has to remember to go look up whether or not a lab result has come in and they may need to look in multiple systems.

    A few systems on the market (including one purchased by Microsoft but developed originally within the MedStar health care system in Washington are designed to correct that issue.

    If you think the automated check in is interesting wait until you see the biometric check in.

  20. Gev says:

    @lore: I work in a hospital and can tell you with almost 100% certainty that if you overstate your symptoms to get to the front of the line that in all likelihood once you’re found out you’ll get kicked back to the waiting room and assigned the lowest priority “rank” thats appropriate for your condition and spend quite a bit of time waiting.

  21. lore says:

    @Thrust: You sure you’re not in there just to spend time with the nurse? :-)

  22. lore says:

    @Gev: That is good to know – thank you for sharing. That has always been my question! I went into ER a few years ago with a pain in my chest (which increased anytime I bent over to pick something up, etc) and I still waited for three hours. Not sure what would have made it go faster, but telling them the pain was about a 6 or 7 certainly did not help.

  23. Piro says:

    That’s all good until there’s someone looking over your shoulder as you hit the BURNING > ANAL > FISSURES buttons.

    Also, does the screen disinfect itself? I’d hate to be pressing just after someone selects BUBONIC PLAGUE.

  24. Josh R. says:

    @Xenuite: I was totally just about to make that comment!

  25. savvy9999 says:

    Maybe it’s like the kiosks at KFC, where you can win a free upgrade to a biggie french fry!

    “Congratulations! For only $4999 more, you can have a real doctor look at your horrible condition, rather than a PA/NP/RN!”

  26. anams0184 says:

    i worked at the parkland ER for a bit and let me just say that its a miracle that they’re having these put in place. parkland is like the city hospital so if you dont have insurence thats where you they receive a lot of people that do not speak a lick of english. this will help speed up the process for getting assesed to see who has a higher acuity level and be seen by the check-in nurse before being seen by a doctor. and for those who are near death and in need to be rushed to a dr..dont drive to the ER 911 and get rushed to the ER…you get seen first.

  27. lore says:

    I’m just waiting for the hacker who will stick a USB memory stick in the kiosk, hack the system, and delete all of the other people in the queue ahead of them.

  28. Xenuite says:

    I want to see the button you push if you have passed out.

  29. This won’t make anything faster.

    I’ve been to a clinic that used something similar and you still have to tell four different people what’s wrong with you because no one actually looks at the information you put in. Also, as Thrust said, unless you have visible symptoms you’re screwed.

  30. Raze50 says:

    How does this work with illiterates or people who have visual impairment?

    This is a serious question. there are many people in the country, and I’m sure Texas, who would not be able to use that kiosk because all of that pretty, text-heavy GUI is a bunch of gobbledy gook to their eyes. I don’t understand why’d they spend all that amount of money on installing a complicated system that does not help everyone. I think it’d be cheaper to hire a couple of bi-lingual nurses or something. Humans are much better than machines when it comes to Medicine.

    Also, Ben: Please don’t ban me for working in the Marketing department of a health system…;)

  31. timmus says:

    Are they serious? I wonder how that will work after it’s been there a week with blood all over the screen. This focus on check-in paperwork reminds me of that Monty Python sketch where the guy with a severed limb is having to fill out forms and is bleeding all over them.

  32. r.chard says:

    Wow, this so sounds like a “paid for news peice.”

  33. ancientsociety says:

    Wow, that’s….ummm, impersonal and probably won’t make a lick of improvement.

    Besides, I don’t think I’d be anxious to touch a screen touched by hundreds of other people that day with god-knows-what. Staph infections are already rampant @ hospitals.

    One of the problems with the ER, as has already been pointed out, is the unbending, illogical necessity to rely on paperwork. Unfortunately, medical school only teaches a doctor to ask questions, consult some charts, and then diagnose.

    I firmly believe that hospitals should have specifically-trained individuals on staff somewhat like a military medic. Someone who can assess the patient quickly, think on their feet, and then get them fast-tracked to the appropriate speciality. But then, that would cost $$$, and we know how profitable hospitals are…..

  34. @lore: Sometimes it’s just how busy the ER is when you get there. Unlike most hospital departments, they don’t get to schedule their patients. :) So sometimes relatively major complaints will take FOREVER to get treated and other times minor ones will fly through. (Also, lots of times the nurse will tell you what you “ought” to say your pain level is.)

    Another way to get seen faster (when you are not actively dying) is to first go to urgent care affiliated with your preferred ER, if that’s available in your area. Urgent care is typically a lot quicker and once the urgent care doc diagnoses, they can send the paperwork from urgent care to the ER and have you “pre-checked-in” when you arrive and already on the schedule for tests.

    And, of course, urgent care can treat an awful lot of things people go to the ER for, so you may get lucky and not have to go to the ER at all! There’s also an enormous variety to what urgent care can treat — some can only handle minor acute illnesses, others can do X-rays on site, so it’s worth doing a little research. I was able to have a broken tailbone treated at urgent care which saved buttloads (ha ha) of both time and money by not having to go to the hospital or ER.

  35. @Raze50: “How does this work with illiterates or people who have visual impairment?”

    @timmus: “I wonder how that will work after it’s been there a week with blood all over the screen.”

    They will still have actual nurses doing triage and check-in (I assume). A stunning number of people use the ER for primary care because they don’t have access to medical care otherwise, and these systems are primarily useful for that — people who are at the ER with the flu, or an infected cut, or whatever.

    People who are actively bleeding are not going to be at the machine. People who are disabled or impaired are not going to be at the machine. People who are in need of immediate care are not going to be at the machine. Those people are going to be going through traditional triage with a real person.

    In THEORY, by removing non-emergent complaints from live triage, they should actually speed up and improve triage quite a bit for people in need of immediate care or special assistance.

  36. frogpelt says:


    I guess it weeds the patients who can’t speak English.

  37. QuirkyRachel says:

    “If you have a communicable disease, please touch the screen here. If you think you might be infected with MRSA, please touch here….”

  38. Flynn says:

    So, the hospital near me in the “fun” part of Evanston — St. Francis — has some computer for checking in. It may not be a kiosk, but they’ve had it for a while.

    The president of our condo association tripped over his dog one night and smacked his head pretty good. He headed into the emergency room. When he got there, the couldn’t find anyone to help him, and he saw nothing but what looked like an off computer. Turns out, it has power saving features enabled, so the screen turns off. Nice way to help people check in.

  39. Xenuite says:

    I have this amazing idea… Its unpopular, I know, but it might be crazy enough to work.

    Hire more nurses.

    Doesn’t it blow your mind?

  40. nffcnnr says:

    i know someone who is going to visit Parkland to check out this system firsthand later this month. i’ll fill you in on his report when i get it. i’m very curious myself. Parkland has what is is widely considered one of, if not the busiest ED’s in the country. Sometimes the line snakes outside of the building and literally around the corner. Anything to speed up the check-in process would help immensely. my first thought was also a concern about the sanitization of the touch screen, so i’m looking forward to find out how they deal with that, too.

  41. bonzombiekitty says:


    There is a shortage of nurses. And many of the available ones aren’t the brightest bulbs in the box (according to my mom who’s a nurse and often ends up training the newly hired ones). So it’s not as simple as hiring more nurses.

  42. Thrust says:

    What about selfe-serve self-cure methods. All I need is some morphine and some bandages, and I can take this knife out of my leg myself.

  43. mandawest says:

    Love the comments people … especially the enzyte reference. This is pretty interesting, as I’m both an ER nurse and a paramedic. For those of you who think that you should call an ambulance if you want to get in the back faster, please don’t. Only call an ambulance when you have an emergency (this would be a good idea for the lady with the cat allergy as the medics will give you a breathing treatment right away). When we know someone is calling 911 for something that could most certainly wait, we tell the nurse when we call in to the hospital, and those people get sent to the waiting room. The computer registration is a good idea. It helps to sort through the mass of people. In order to fix the root cause of the problem, though, here’s what needs to happen: 1.People need to get primary care doctors and use them, not the ER/911 for things that are not emergencies, 2.Hospitals need to stop taking nurses for granted and hire the amount they actually need, and treat them well so the good experienced ones will stay. Unfortunately, until the abuse of 911 and the ER for things that are not really urgent/emergent stops, people with serious medical problems will continute to suffer the consequences.

  44. IC18 says:

    @Thrust: Just like self-checkout isles.

    If you can handle self-inflicted pain, please stand here.

  45. Buran says:

    I’ve only had to go to the ER once (for a bad slash injury caused by putting my wrist through a window unintentionally) and it wasn’t being checked in that was a problem – the ambulance crew (I called 911 since I didn’t feel comfortable driving myself in – it was a BAD slash and I drove a five-speed at the time) explained when we drove off that the hospital they were taking me to was in the area and was smaller, thus less hassle, and had no problem with my insurance provider.

    They were very helpful and polite and answered all my questions and filed their paperwork promptly an so I was checked in quickly. It was the wait time AFTER checkin that was annoying. My wrist had quit bleeding because I was applying pressure to it, but it was boring to sit around in a nightgown (this happened at something like 6AM) and wait with nothing to do — there weren’t even any out-of-date magazines to read, and the family member who drove over to wait with me left home before I could call and tell her to bring a book.

    So, I spent a few long, boring hours before getting the stitches that weren’t caused by checkin times. The real problem is how long people are forced to wait even when the hospital is not overcrowded.

  46. Thrust says:

    @mandawest: If the “Cat allergy lady” is me, I forgive your mistake in genders. Can be hard to tell when I don’t actively wave my penis around the forum but here, let me get it out, one sec…



    Ambulances can be pretty damned expensive, if they could just find some way to duct-tape the mouth of any cranky hypochondriac who whines when someone in my position gets bumped ahead of them, it would be dandy.

  47. mandawest says:


    OOP!! So sorry!!
    I know, ambulances are terribly expensive (although, for what paramedics get paid you wouldn’t think so … and private ambulance services which have taken over 911 are money grubbers! cough *AMR* cough). It’s super frustrating that so many idiots try to get in to be seen when pt.s in real need have to be held up by that. In some systems, I’ve been able to give a treatment, get a refusal, and the person doesn’t get charged, but that’s not everywhere.

  48. Thrust says:

    @mandawest: As I said don’t worry about it… Though it is breezy now.

    Anyhoo I know how sucky the medical end of the world is for westcoast Canada. Four aunts and one cousin are nurses, a plastic surgeon uncle, two paramedic cousins, and my mother is an administrator for government run home-care services. NOTHING in healthcare works right.

  49. Xenuite says:

    @bonzombiekitty: Actually, it is. Raise the wages and nurse jobs will fill real fast.

  50. eli_b says:

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this yet, but on the right human figure on the screen, there is a section just for the ass. Now, I’m not sure if that covers mud butt AND hamster trapping, but I sure hope so.

  51. Xenuite says:

    those problems have their own line at this point. At the end is a machine with what looks like a plunger.

  52. Uriel says:

    If you believe that you are in life-threatening danger when entering the ER, ALWAYS tell them that you have chest pains. Otherwise, you may be left to die in that waiting-room.