Pulse+IT Magazine - October 2013

Page 44



mobile applications, which streamlines the process for patients. “It’s easier with the app than on the computer because the app will remember your password and user name,” Dr Pava says. “It also remembers who your doctor is. And once you have made an appointment it will email you, and integrate into your calendar so you are reminded 24 hours and then one hour before your appointment.”

Selecting a solution While the requirements of each practice and the focus of each of the available online appointment booking services varies to a large degree, healthcare organisations that are interested in providing patients with the ability to book appointments online should be mindful of the following considerations: Practice software If you are interested in selecting a solution that integrates with your practice software,

it will pay to first ensure your practice software vendor has a relationship or at least an awareness that the appointment system is being marketed as ‘integrated’ to avoid potential data corruption and issues that may arise from any future software updates. It is also worth connecting with other practices via your software vendor’s online forum to seek feedback from those that are already using the online appointment system you propose to set up. What is your practice hoping to achieve? Before reviewing the various options available on the market, practices should first define what they are hoping to achieve by offering online appointments. Having a clear understanding of the types of benefits your practice is seeking from the outset will save a great deal of time when reviewing the options and selecting the solution that best suits your needs. Data ownership and terms of use When an appointment is booked online,

Below - A selection of the online appointment booking services operating in Australia. Right - Screenshots from the iPhone apps of (from L to R) 1st Available, Appointuit, Doc Appointments and Health Engine. Appointment Booking Service


1st Available




Clinic Connect












basic patient demographic and contact information is invariably stored by the organisation providing the service. While this is not an issue in itself, practices should be mindful of how this data may be used by the appointment booking service, the details of which should be outlined in their terms of service. Workflow considerations Receiving appointment bookings via the Internet will invariably require that practices evaluate some of their established practice workflows and procedures, and provide staff with additional training as required. Practices will need to consider how cancellations, changes to appointments and no-shows are dealt with, although guidance from the providers of many of the appointment booking systems suggests that major adjustments to existing workflows are not usually required. HealthEngine’s Dr Tan says that in his experience, issues relating to patients not turning up to their appointment can be