HotDoc the new kid on the block


Melbourne-based HotDoc is the latest company to enter the growing online medical appointment booking market, offering a customised web booking application with a free mobile app and with plans to launch extra add-on features such as a practice management dashboard.

Established by Melbourne doctor Ben Hurst last year, HotDoc has its sights set on improving patient flow and other efficiencies for general practices, and plans to differentiate itself by helping clinics make the best use of some of the existing analytical functions within practice management software.

HotDoc is integrated with Best Practice, PracSoft and Zedmed, and last week launched an iPhone app for patients. Unlike patient-centric online appointment booking services like HealthEngine and 1stAvailable, Dr Hurst said HotDoc was aligning itself with the practice-centric market along with the likes of DocAppointments, Appointuit and Clinic Connect.

Dr Hurst said while there is now a healthy market for online appointment services, he believes it is an area that is still in its infancy.

“When we started, the companies that are around now weren't that established,” he said. “That has since gained some traction, but if you look at the market it is very under-penetrated. I think probably less than 10 per cent of GPs actually use an online system.”

Even a year ago the concept of online appointment booking was still novel, but having attended the recent Melbourne GPCE, that seemed to be changing, he said.

“Now, general practitioners understand the concept and they see the utility and the efficiency that they can gain, so they are coming to the vendors little bit more."

HotDoc plans to differentiate itself by offering full customisation to practices based on doctor preference, including retaining a manual system to allow practice staff to become used to an online system.

“An appointment isn't just clicking on a time and sending a confirmation email; it's about trying to get the right appointment with the right doctor every time,” he said.

“We do have that three-point process of selecting a reason for the appointment, selecting a doctor and then selecting a time and that essentially funnels all of our patients into the right doctor according to their preference.

“The other thing we do is we have a customised process of patient transfer into the schedule. We do have an automated transfer but we also do a manual transfer. Even though that doesn't necessarily improve the efficiency, what it does do is allow practices to have an additional layer of control.

“It allows reception staff and practice managers to become comfortable with the system before we do the direct feed into it. [We] see it as an opportunity to have both a good web application as well as mobile. We've gone web first and mobile second.”

The company has focused on building a network of clinics in Melbourne initially, but is now starting to look interstate. It is also looking at the very large and underserved market for online bookings for allied health practices, and is also working on extra features to help practices improve their efficiency.

“We are in the process of doing additional add-on features, one of which is a practice management dashboard,” Dr Hurst said. “Although some of the practice management systems have reporting mechanisms, for example Best Practice, they don't really have a good way to illustrate patient flow and patient utilisation for the different doctors.

“We think there is definitely an opportunity there to help with practice management decision-making. We are trying to process the full gamut of patient flow.”

HotDoc is offered on a subscription basis, costing $39 per month per doctor for full-time practitioners and $29 per month for part-timers.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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