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20 September 2021

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Time for online appointment booking

Find out how real-time solutions are now a reality for everyone.

Our Managing Director, Peter Connor, explains how our central appointment booking system could make the transformation that the healthcare industry has been waiting for.

You may remember the situation a few decades ago when booking holidays was a time-consuming and complicated affair. Most people left it to travel agents to make the multiple calls needed to check availability, hold seats and then confirm reservations. But this was costly for the travel and tourism sector in terms of staff resources and missed opportunities.

Industry bosses turned to technology to bring order to the chaos. The real game-changer proved to be a Global Distribution System (GDS). This allowed different service providers to exchange information about services and availability in real-time through a central hub. Bringing GDS into the travel sector transformed the booking experience for people. Now they could view the latest options online and book flights and hotels themselves.

There are clear parallels between the travel industry back then and the private healthcare sector now. Most booking processes are inefficient, fragmented, prone to failures and detract from the patient experience. Different providers (practitioners, hospitals and insurers) can’t exchange real-time information about availability. This carries the risk of double booking or wasted slots – ultimately opportunities for growth are missed.

Our appointment booking solution

We know that patients expect to be able to access healthcare services online. However, live booking is relatively rare in the private sector. Even where it exists it often requires human intervention.

We know that a central appointment booking system can transform private healthcare as it did for the travel and hospitality sectors. We’ve started to develop our own bespoke version for the sector. Put simply, our GDS-based appointment booking solution acts as a hidden engine room. One that’s capable of powering the process for private healthcare.

This is how it works:

  1. Providers (practitioners, clinics and hospitals) link ICE through an Application Programming Interface (API). This enables them to connect their diaries with multiple different booking sites with just a single interface
  2. You publish information about your services and synchronise appointment availability through ICE. This information is shared in real-time with the booking websites so users can see exactly what’s available
  3. Bookings can be made using the site of their choice to search for an available slot. There’s the potential to have a range of search criteria such as specialty, location, time or service type. Once users book an appointment, this information is transmitted in real-time and their appointment is automatically made

Benefits

Our solution has significant benefits for the sector – and for your business:

Standards-based – We’ve built the solution to meet stringent FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, published by HL7) data exchange and messaging standards. These have previously been implemented by the NHS for its Electronic Referrals System (ERS).

Efficient – A truly automated and seamless booking process completely removes the need for human intervention to check and confirm booking slots.

Accurate – The availability of appointments is synchronised in real time removing the possibility of double booking.

Improve patient experience – The booking experience is smoother and far unlikely to fail. Patients will have the reassurance of being able to make an appointment there and then – at a convenient time and location. Patient details are automatically collected at the outset. Resulting in a far more personalised service.

Attract more patients – You can link to many different booking sites, extending your potential reach. This comes at a time when NHS waiting times are prompting more people to look at private health services.

Quick and easy to implement – It’s only necessary to build one interface to our solution to reach multiple booking sites. This avoids the costly and time-consuming process to build interfaces to each one.

Flexible – As well as linking to third-party booking sites, you can build your own branded front-end booking service. Make the connection between your brand and great service.

Secure – Like all of our solutions, it meets stringent information security standards. This includes end-to-end encryption to protect your sensitive data.

Scalable – There are no development costs for existing users when more practitioners, providers and booking sites link with ICE.

Increases convenience and choice – The solution will be an invisible, but revolutionary, development. Patients can search multiple healthcare organisations. They can use different criteria and filters to find the service that meets their needs (either directly or through a referring organisation).

It’s time for the private healthcare sector to learn from the travel sector and ditch the fragmented and inefficient appointment booking process that’s holding us all back. We’re proud that our innovation and online technology will make it possible to optimise the booking process and meet patient expectations.


Want to know more?

To find out how our online booking system can meet your patient expectations, contact our Business Development team.

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