To Kiosk or not to Kiosk

Posted on Wed, Jul 09, 2014

By Ginger A. Wirth, RN Divisional Director of Clinical Services, EmCare South Division

Kiosks are everywhere. I walked into a Panera Bread the other day and right at the front of panera-kiosk.jpgthe store as I walked in was a shiny new kiosk where I could order my lunch to save time. I was amazed and couldn’t help but to stop and take a picture! I commented to my lunch group that rather than being welcomed by the smell of the wonderful baked goods when I arrived, there was the automation of my lunch experience right in front of me!

Then I reflected on the fact that this is actually more common and becoming the mainstream for today's society. We use the ATM without thinking and we’re actually somewhat annoyed when we don’t have one right when we want it. 30 years ago who would have thought that we could do all our banking at a teller-less machine! We are a 24-7 society. We pay for our gasoline at the pump, which is essentially a kiosk. No longer do we have time to walk into the gas station and actually speak to an attendant and most of the younger generation today would not even believe that full service gas stations with an attendant to pump gas, check the oil and wash the windshield ever existed!

We are so conditioned to using kiosk technology that it is not surprising that this technology has entered the healthcare space. I go to my primary care provider and am asked by the receptionist to check in at the kiosk. I swipe my driver's license and my information populates on the screen. I am given my HIPAA information and asked to acknowledge and then I sit and wait for my appointment. I now see in Emergency Departments all over the country we are expected to do the same. We are asked to check in and our information is sent directly to the triage nurse and the patients are called to be seen.

This will certainly help streamline the registration process by using our already traditional form of identification. It will virtually eliminate errors in duplicate registrations of patients and should help with false identifications that sometimes occur in the ED. It appears to seamlessly populate information into the hospital registration systems and when deployed correctly should make the whole process quicker for the patients that present to the ED. I have even witnessed 75-year-olds use this check-in kiosk without difficulty. If you think about it, they use the ATM and other kiosks all the time, so why wouldn’t they use these with ease as well.

And with such ease of use for all ages, it appears that the kiosks are here to stay.  As a frequent traveler, I enjoy using kiosks every week when I check-in for flights at the airport, but I still find myself hoping that we never get to a place where the humanity of healthcare is replaced by technology.



Ginger joined EmCare in 2013 as a Divisional Director of Clinical Services for the South Division with the strong belief that she could continue to make positive changes within healthcare by helping others focus on quality, excellence and the overall patient experience. Ginger Wirth regards her role as Director of Clinical Services as the ideal opportunity to partner with nursing, physician and facility leaders to make positive changes to the entire patient care experience. Her 20+ year nursing career has been dedicated to quality and excellence, promoting overall positive outcomes and safety for patients.

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