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How You Can Use Our ER Wait Watcher App

When the need for care is urgent, time can be the most important metric to measure. Our new ER Wait Watcher app does just that, telling you how long you'll have to wait at nearby emergency rooms. This makes it a valuable tool not just for potential patients, but also for other journalists.

Like all of ProPublica’s work, this app is built in the hopes that reporters everywhere will find their local story in it, and push that important story into their communities.

Specific features you can put to work for your own stories:

Waiting times: Our data, from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, includes averages for:

  • how long patients tend to wait before seeing a doctor
  • how long they spend in the ER before being sent home or admitted to the hospital
  • how many leave without being seen at all

If hospitals abound in your area, for example, readers might be surprised to see that traveling farther is likely to get them in front of a doctor sooner because of long wait times.

Drive times: Our app factors that in, with real-time data from Google, making it easy to see the average total time until patients get care.
Patient satisfaction scores: The closest hospital – or even the fastest one, according to our data – may not be the highest rated.
Hospital participation: All data is reported voluntarily by hospitals, which have a financial incentive to participate. If your hospital isn’t reporting its data: Why not? That might just be its own story.

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