When booking an appointment for a health professional, there are different ways to go about it. The obvious, old fashioned way is to pick up the phone and call a healthcare practice to discuss with a receptionist possible appointment options. Everyone understands the inefficiencies of doing it this way. Not getting the appointment you want or maybe experiencing a busy line – it’s all frustrating.
London based health innovation company Zesty is a company that is about to make these annoyances a thing of the past by offering UK patients a more convenient and efficient way to access healthcare appointments. Their mission is to make booking a healthcare appointment as simple and easy as booking a flight or a hotel room online, says Lloyd Price, cofounder of Zesty. The company is currently offering Londoners access to dentistry, private GPs, physios, chiropractors, osteopaths and podiatrists, but by the end of 2014, the company wants to role out over the entire UK into 25 other healthcare areas.
The need for increased efficiency becomes apparent when looking at the statistics of the Developing Patient Partnership (DPP).
In an article (here) DPP was quoted to estimate that across Britain 12.6 million GP appointments are missed every year, with 976,553 being in London. Another statistic by the NHS Information Centre mentions that 7.3 percent of hospital outpatients miss appointments without calling in advance to cancel or reschedule. Mis-scheduling accounts for some of this, but not all. There also needs to be improved transparency between the practice’s availability and the patient’s schedule. This would dramatically reduce wasted resources.
It’s not just hospital resources, it’s patients’, too. A study by UK’s leading independent health information site Patient.co.uk found that the “majority of patients demand “transactional services that make their lives easier. Of 11,000 patients that were asked, 91% said they would use an online service to order repeat prescriptions and 90% wanted to book GP appointments online.”
To automate the process, Zesty just announced a partnership with the practice management software provider Qinec and its QinecTouch ecosystem of smaller practices spread throughout the UK. Qinec who works with over 3,000 clinical professionals, aims to offer every class of outpatient care provider, regardless of practice size, a flexible and easily scalable cloud-based practice management solution. Lloyd Price says that this collaboration is an important step forward for the entire healthcare innovation ecosystem. He also mentions that the partnership unlocks a “hidden supply” of appointments for healthcare practices because patients can now book cancelled and rearranged appointments, a few minutes after they have been made available again, and key is the fluid and dynamic updates made by the Qinec PMS system constantly.
A spokes person at Metro Medical, a successful private GP practice in London, explains that the practice has tremendously benefited by Qinec’s system. Now with the partnership between Qinec and Zesty’s online healthcare appointment service, Metro Medical can offer real transparency and convenience to its patients when it comes to the appointment booking experience.
Metro Medical is one of the leading private primary care practices, serving London’s south east and Canary Warf. It is also a great example of how a healthcare practice should operate and step up with an open mindset towards innovation for improved online access for its patients. “We operate in the best interest of our patients, and are open to new healthcare innovation that make our lives easier to manage our practice more efficiently but, even more importantly, makes the lives of our patients easier”, says a spokes person of Metro Medical.
Passionate to build system for patients, innovators need to scale. PMS systems hold a special power and are able to introduce new solutions to healthcare providers. Innovation has to come from the bottom-up, not top-down. This means that patients have to initiate and direct the change. Practices like Metro Medical and others know the problems very well when it comes to out-of-hour missed patient calls and others issues such as missed or canceled appointments.
With more collaboration between PMS providers and innovators, we might be able to crack the code and see more creative ideas scale.