DocAppointments launches check-in app for patient flow
Online appointment booking service DocApppointments.com.au has released a new check-in app for Android tablets that aims to streamline patient flow in general practice and free up receptionists' time.
The app is a simple one that can be downloaded onto an Android device that is attached by a mount to the wall. When the patient arrives at the surgery, they can bypass reception and check in themselves, much like at an airport self-check-in booth.
DocAppointments founder Calin Pava, a GP at the Devonport GP Superclinic in Tasmania, said the idea was to improve patient flow and free up the receptionists' work for more important duties.
The check-in app is available only with Best Practice and PracSoft at the moment, but Dr Pava said it would also be available in Stat. The functionality is the same for all packages, he said.
“We chose to do it on Android because they are cheaper for practices to buy than an iPad,” he said. “Basically, when the patient comes into the practice, if the receptionist is busy then rather than clogging the entrance they just go to the wall, put in their name and the doctor that they have the appointment with, and the software checks that they have an appointment within an hour of the time they arrive. If the software finds an appointment, it arrives them.”
The patient's status appears within the practice management software just as if a receptionist had done it manually.
Dr Pava said many people would simply by-pass reception and go straight to the tablet as they are so familiar these days with self-check-in systems. And if they have also used DocAppointments to book their appointment, the only contact they have with the receptionist is when they come out of the consultation and pay.
“It is simply to get them in as fast as possible,” he said. “They can check in as soon as they arrive, go and sit down and it means better patient flow.”
Dr Pava said he had considered adding further functionality, such as the ability to update contact details or even medical history, but there were legal ramifications to that which made it unacceptable.
“We trialled that in the waiting room, but it is a bit more difficult because it alters a file in Best Practice or PracSoft, which technically can be done but legally there is a problem,” he said.
“We gave up on that idea because you would have to first identify the patient and make sure the information is correct. It is a whole legal minefield. We do something similar in our practice for medicals, but we don't actually allow them to alter the record in the software.”
He said the software vendors weren't entirely happy with the idea either and the practice solicitor advised against it. “There is also an issue for accreditation in terms of checking their identity. With the app, the doctor can check but also the receptionist can too when the patient comes out to pay.”
Dr Pava and his team have designed the wall mount for the tablet, which practices can purchase to go with a Galaxy tablet, or DocAppointments can supply both. They then just have to download the app, which comes with a fee of $250 a year.
Posted in Australian eHealth