Depending on the capabilities of the online booking system and the practice’s preferences, patients new to the practice may also be able to use such services, but these people may be given a limited set of appointment types or providers to choose from. Typically a patient using this type of service would visit the relevant practice’s website and fill in an online form; however, as described below, this process may also be undertaken using a smart phone app. Patient-centric Patient-centric solutions, on the other hand, have taken a bottom-up approach by creating websites that allow patients to search for available appointments in their area, across a range of healthcare facilities. This approach can best be equated with the various online hotel booking services, which effectively create a market for hotels to sell latent capacity (i.e. unbooked rooms), allowing travellers to easily browse and compare options across a
range of accomodation providers that meet their criteria. Marcus Tan, CEO of HealthEngine, says the foundation of his appointment service as a health directory was a key point of difference with other systems, and he hasn’t yet seen strong demand to have the solution integrated with practice management software. “Because we started off as a health directory, we know that for a large number of consumers the biggest issue is negotiating the health system and that’s true for doctors as well – finding specialists and allied health and that sort of thing,” Dr Tan says. “We do integrate [with some practice management software] but we have a system where you can publish something manually. “Ninety per cent of practices are still on that solution. The thinking around that, I suspect, is that a lot of practices don’t necessarily want integration.
“They say, ‘I don’t want you to touch my booking system – I still want a human being to decide and sanity check some of this stuff.’ It doesn’t suit a lot of practices to have that integration ...“
Smart phone apps With one of the primary motivations for online appointment systems being improved convenience, it’s no surprise that many of the suppliers of these services have embraced smart phones, with many online appointment solutions available to patients on Apple’s iOS devices and handsets that run Android. As these apps are free – though some require an account to be established – Pulse+IT encourages readers to take the time to download these apps and explore them in more detail for themselves. Calin Pava, founder of Doc Appointments, says that while the majority of appointments booked through his solution originate from computers, around 35 per cent are now being made through his
Choose a career in health information management With increased investment in eHealth and evidence-based funding, now is a great time for health professionals to move into an emerging area of health care. QUT’s new degree in Health Information Management responds to growing demand for professionals who can support the collection, reporting, analysis and management of health information to improve decision making in health care and for health service delivery. Ranked Australia’s top uni under 50 years of age by Times Higher Education in the UK, you can be confident this is a contemporary program delivered by experienced industry professionals.
Megan Hayes, Health Information Specialist at the Mater and QUT graduate.
If you’ve completed a health science or IT-related degree you may be eligible for up to one year of credit. Find out more at qut.edu.au/public-health
CRICOS No.00213J © QUT 2013 HLT-13-1189 19765
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