After Vivian Beachum mistook anti-fungal solution for contact lens drops, her first conversation at Dallas-based Parkland Memorial Hospital's emergency room wasn't with a nurse.
A computer asked her where she hurt.
Instead of standing in linesometimes for hoursjust to explain their symptoms at one of the nation's busiest emergency rooms, 806-bed Parkland's patients now type their woes into a computer at one of three automated check-in kiosks. The idea is to keep sick folks from having to stand while waiting, and to more quickly reach patients who might not look sick but whose illness demands immediate attention.
While similar machines are popping up nationally to check in patients at medical clinics, Parkland officials said they believe they are among the first to have a system in a hospital emergency room. A donation through the University of Texas' Southwestern Medical School paid for the $50,000 project.
The kiosks went up just two weeks ago, and kinks are still being worked out. Because of the people served at the public hospitalincluding a large indigent populationthe technology can present challenges. The machines look and operate a lot like automated check-in kiosks at the airport.
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