Objective: We created an instructional waiting room video that explained what patients should expect during their emergency department (ED) visit and sought to determine whether preparing patients using this video would 1) improve satisfaction, 2) decrease perceived waiting room times and 3) increase calls to an outpatient referral line in an ambulatory population.
Methods: This serial cross-sectional study took place over a period of 2 months before (control) and 2 months after the introduction of an educational waiting room video that described a typical patient visit to our ED. We enrolled a convenience sample of adult patients or parents of pediatric patients who were triaged to the ED waiting room; a research assistant distributed and collected the surveys as patients were being discharged after treatment. Subjects were excluded if they were admitted. The primary outcome was overall satisfaction measured on a 5-point Likert scale, and secondary outcomes included perceived waiting room time, and the number of outpatient referral-line calls.
Results: There were 1132 subjects surveyed: 551 prevideo and 581 postvideo. The mean age was 38 years (standard deviation [SD] 18), 61% were female and the mean ED length of stay was 5.9 hours (SD 3.6). Satisfaction scores were significantly higher postvideo, with 65% of participants ranking their visit as either "excellent" or "very good", compared with 58.1% in the prevideo group (p = 0.019); however, perceived waiting room time was not significantly different between the groups (p = 0.24). Patient calls to our specialty outpatient clinic referral line increased from 1.5 per month (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.58-2.42) to 4.5 per month (95% CI 1.19-7.18) (p = 0.032). After adjusting for possible covariates, the most significant determinants of overall satisfaction were perceived waiting room time (odds ratio [OR] 0.41, 95% CI 0.34-0.48) and having seen the ED waiting room video (OR 1.41, 95% CI 1.06-1.86).
Conclusion: Preparing patients for their ED experience by describing the ED process of care through a waiting room video can improve ED patient satisfaction and the knowledge of outpatient clinic resources in an ambulatory population. Future studies should research the implementation of this educational intervention in a randomized fashion.