Online appointment scheduling for optimum equipment utilization in real-time

Image source: medigration

Intelligent IT

Online appointment scheduling for optimum equipment utilization in real-time

Over the past few years, modern appointment management has found its way into German medical practices. Nevertheless, there is significant room for improvement as some doctors can still be contacted only by phone and only during office hours. Now, medigration GmbH offers a solution: a web-based appointment scheduling system that is an add-on to the radiology information system (RIS).

“Many commercially available appointment management systems are geared towards a wide range of medical specialties. We decided to create an add-on specifically for radiology practices and integrated it in our multi-portal platform,” explains managing director Markus Steinlein.

Patient appointment scheduling in radiology can get very complex, ­particularly when different sites are involved, since the scheduling team have to ensure balanced imaging equipment utilization. Moreover, the many calls the scheduling team have to field and poor plannability – because patients are late or no-shows – strongly impacts overall practice management and indeed the economic sustainability of the radiology service provider. “We integrated appointment scheduling in our RIS to enable optimal equipment utilization in real-time,” says Steinlein. In other words: all scheduling rules defined in the scheduling tool can be applied for online appointment booking.

portrait of markus steinlein
Markus Steinlein, Managing Director of medigration GmbH

The add-on offers radiology practices a further communication channel with patients and referring physicians. Thus, the radiologists can control the types of services they want to offer. The workflow of the appointment scheduler can be either automated or moderated. “A moderated process has the advantage that the patients can enter their preferred times and the staff can process these requests quickly,” says Steinlein. “Particularly with complex examinations this workflow leads to additional appointment bookings.” Automated scheduling means that the scheduling team immediately see when an online request is being processed. “The moment a patient chooses a time slot, this slot is flagged in the sched­uler. When the booking is completed, the appointment is fixed. If the patient abandons the booking process, the flagged time slot is available again.”

Mobile use

The add-on is available for desktop and for mobile devices. If patients book via a smartphone or tablet they can enter the time and day in their calendar and can even download additional information such as directions. “Moreover, the patients can take a photo of their referral document and upload it to the system,” Steinlein reports. “Thus the required patient data doesn’t have to be entered manually – which removes a potential source of error. At the same time, the moderated workflow includes the referral document which contains the type of exam the referring physician has requested.” 

Privacy

Unlike other appointment scheduling systems, the medigration add-on is not strictly cloud-based. “A webserver is part of our multi-portal platform. Its main purpose is the transmission of images and reports, but with regard to the scheduler it is a secure link to the appointment planner in the radiology practice,” says Steinlein. The data the patient provides in the course of the booking process is not permanently stored on the webserver but is simply passed through. “The actual data processing and storage happens in the radiology practice and the radiologist controls the data,” Steinlein underlines.

15.04.2021

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