New site aims to empty waiting rooms

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Patients don't always have patience in a waiting room. Seconds slowly tick off the clock. Pains and sicknesses seem to get worse. Kids' screams continue to get louder. Pages of outdated magazines get flipped at a dizzying pace. There has to be a better way, right? Thanks to Robin Zee, a nurse from North Kingsville, OH, now there is. Zee, who has been an RN for 12 years, recently launched, a site aimed at reducing time in the waiting room and increasing patient satisfaction.

"I'd been thinking about it for a long time," says Zee. "I deal with a lot of physicians and some are just chronically late. I had listened to patients complain and complain, and I thought 'With so many people using the Internet now, instead of calling ahead, why not just go online?' "

So that's what she did. A few months ago, Zee launched, which instantly brings patients into a virtual waiting room. Patients, at no charge, can go to the Web site and type in their physician's phone number and hit the "search" tab. If their physician participates, a screen will instantly come up showing them if the office is running on time or if there is a delay.

"If an office is running behind, it will say 'Dr. so and so is running 45 minutes behind today,' " Zee says.

The technology is quite simple for physicians and their offices, too, Zee says. They go to the homepage, put in a user name and password, and are able to edit their account at will. It takes about 15 seconds to update and can also be personalized with a message. A year's subscription to the site costs a physician $69.95. They can also subscribe for six months for a reduced fee or try a 60-day free trial.

"It takes less time than a phone call," Zee says. "I really thought doctors could use it as a way to show that they value their patients' time."

And that, in turn, will help the doctors. Zee's research revealed that 70% of patients choose a doctor because of a recommendation from a friend or a family member. "This way, they can hold on to some of their patients," Zee says. "I want patients to be satisfied when visiting the doctor."

Zee also had nurses in mind when creating her Web site. "They have to listen to patients when they are frustrated and upset, which affects patient care," she says. "This will help to make [the experience] more pleasant for the patient and help the office run smoother."

The service is available to family practice physicians and any kind of doctors that see patients. (Zee didn't include dentists.) Despite the fact that only a handful of physicians have signed up for the service so far, Zee is optimistic that the idea will catch on nationwide.  "I just started taking on physicians about three months ago," she says.

And she's doing it on her own. Zee relied only on help from a developer to get the site running and from friends and family who supported her idea. Now, she's spending her time getting the word out. She's hoping word of mouth, a little public relations, and a few conferences and conventions will help get the idea further off the ground--and people out of waiting rooms.

"With so many people going online and using the net now, I figured this might be a good place for doctors and patients to meet up," Zee says. "I knew there had to be a better way."

Editor's note: For more information about, contact Robin Zee at 440-344-0521.