Alexandria, LA - A visit to the Emergency Room can be stressful. But Rapides Regional Medical Center now offers new technology that helps patients and families stay informed during their ER visit - while minimizing anxiety.

"We find that patients respond best when they know what is going on and what they can expect during a visit to the Emergency Department," said Dominique Boney, MBA, BSN, RN-BC, Director of Emergency Services. "The more they know, the better their experience can be."

The new WaitER Texting System helps do just that.

"Once patients check in, we ask if they would like to sign up for text alerts from the ER," Boney said.

These texts - sent directly to the patient's phone - are especially useful in communicating with patients visiting the ER for minor care issues, letting patients know when lab results will be ready and when they have been approved for discharge.

But texts can also be sent to loved ones who are unable to be with patients in the ER.

"Since we've had to limit visitors to the ER during the pandemic, this system has been helpful in communicating with those family members who can't stay with the patient," Boney said.

For example, text messages may ask a family member to "Call the ER at your earliest convenience," "Your loved one is resting comfortably," or "Your loved one is resting comfortably and awaiting test results."

Patients appreciate the added level of communication.

"Communication is key in providing quality healthcare," Boney said. "And while we know face-to-face communication is best, this gives us a chance to fill in the gaps when face-to-face communication isn't possible.

"Our goal, always, is to make sure the patient knows everything they need to know when they need to know it. An informed patient helps us all provide better care."