Imagine you are playing basketball with your buddies at the park and after going up for a rebound you land on somebody’s foot and severely twist your ankle.

You know its bad because you can’t put pressure on it, but you aren’t a doctor so you need to get X-Rays to see how serious the injury is ASAP.

Unfortunately, upon arriving at the emergency department you find a waiting room full of at least 50 people ahead of you who are taking up all of the available chairs, not to mention sneezing & coughing all over each other.

Sounds like an all around miserable experience, right ?

What if, though, you could have simply used your phone to check the wait time at the ED before arriving? Taking it a step further, what if once you saw you were going to be waiting in agonizing pain behind 50 people, you had the option to reserve a guaranteed slot at a specific time when those 50 people are gone?

Sounds almost too good to be true, right? Well, thanks to Atlanta-based startup ER Express this is now entirely possible.

“The core problem we solve is that patients’ # 1 complaint at the ER is the long wait,” ER Express Executive VP Sahil Patel told me. “Nationally, the wait averages four hours. This wait has a negative impact on patient satisfaction and creates congestion in the ER.  Patients vastly prefer to do their waiting at home, and then come in at an agreed-upon time. Our service not only puts the patient in control, but reduces the congestion in the wait area. This is prove to be a competitive advantage for hospitals. In our surveys, 47% of patients said the ER Express service influenced which hospital they chose.”

ER Express is currently operating in nine markets across the country, including my home market of the greater Chicagoland area where they are providing their service to patients at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. The service is also available in cities across Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Alabama.

“There are situations that require patients with non-life-threatening illnesses to seek treatment at the Emergency Department, particularly when their regular doctor’s office is closed,” said Michael J. Goebel, chief executive officer of Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. “We realize that wait times in our ER may improve if we can streamline the process. ER Express helps us deliver a higher level of service to all patients.”

The newest feature offered by ER Express is a directory of Aftercare videos featuring a board certified emergency medicine physician that can be viewed and shared by patients as many times as they want for free. This is a particularly useful feature because its estimated as many as 78% of patients do not remember all of the instructions provided by the physician post-discharge.

As a result, often times patients will end up right back in the ED for the same condition, racking up unnecessary costs for both themselves and the provider which could have easily been avoided.

“Our strategy to expand to new markets centers on first making sure that our existing clients have a successful roll-out, and partnering with them to explain the service to their patient community,” Patel told me when I asked him about the company’s growth strategy. “If we do that part right, we can sell on the basis of documented ROI, and that tends to get hospital executives’ attention. Secondly, we are continually investing in product innovation. For example, last quarter we rolled out our private API, which lets hospitals build on our software with their own branding. Adventist Hinsdale has done a great job doing this with”