DocAppointments fully integrated with Zedmed

Online appointments service DocAppointments is now fully integrated with Zedmed's practice management software solution, in addition to Best Practice and PracSoft.

DocAppointments has also received the Best Practice Solution Integrate imprimatur, meaning there is a standing agreement to ensure the software is compatible each time there is an update.

DocAppointments founder and CEO Calin Pava said there was also a standing agreement with Health Communication Network (HCN) for PracSoft, and work is ongoing to allow DocAppointments to access PracSoft through a specially designed API, with HCN selling the service through its new Widget Store.

DocAppointments is now also fully automatic, so individual doctor's appointments are automatically made available online as well as in the practice management system.

“You have one click of a button in your admin screen and you can make all the appointments that are blank in your practice management system for each individual doctor become available automatically online – you don't have to do anything else,” Dr Pava said.

"The receptionist doesn't have to do anything. In some systems the receptionist has to put the appointments online and then transfer them to the practice management system, but with DocAppointments it is done automatically."

The length of each individual doctor's appointments can also be made available automatically, he said.

“We have adapted the software so it mimics whatever you have set up in the practice management software. Once you have it installed and you have clicked all of those boxes, you don't need to touch anything after that. If you change your setting in your practice management software, our system mirrors it.”

Patients can make appointments either through or through the practice's own website. Dr Pava said practices can choose where they have their portal as some have closed books and don't want to be listed on a directory.

“What we recommend to most practices is they put a link to our website and one from their own,” he said. “Some practices choose to put it only for their own because they don't take new patients, so they just put it on their own website and then they give the link only to their own patients.

“Even within the practice, the practice manager can decide if one individual doctor takes new patients or not. If you have an older doctor who doesn't take new patients, you just click one box in admin and automatically that one doctor is allocated a code that he gives only to his own patients.

“If you have a new doctor in the practice, you leave it open and it allows you to channel all of the new patients to the new doctor, but you still allow all patients of the practice to make appointments online.”

Dr Pava said many practices now have online appointments through their own websites, but only offering a couple of appointments a day online isn't really doing much.

"In order for it to make a difference to the practice, you really should be trying to reach a target of about 30 per cent of your appointments being made online. That's when you actually see savings in the receptionist's time.

"That target can make a difference to the practice's profitability by up to $60,000 a year. It's not enough to say you have some appointments online - it's how you promote it to patients and get them to use it to achieve that sort of proportion. That's where you actually get the benefit."

DocAppointments is also offering a customised e-newsletter service to allow practices to communicate with patients better. Dr Pava said that while many practices have a paper newsletter, his research has shown that only about five per cent of patients actually read it while sitting in the waiting room.

To capture younger patients, you have to go mobile, he said.

“Paper newsletters may look good but they don't actually do anything for you. Electronic newsletters are mostly read on mobile platforms and those will be younger people.

“Our statistics show that 20 per cent are opened in the first two hours. I sent a newsletter for my practice on a public holiday, and within two hours 20 per cent were opened. This morning, it is 69 per cent. That is being sent to 5000-odd patients, so by tomorrow night there will be 80 per cent of people will have read it. That is a really good penetration.”

DocAppointments is allied to a graphic design agency, which will personalise the newsletter for each practice. All the practice needs to do is email some content, and the company will lay out the newsletter, add some photos and email it out to the practice's database.

eNewsletters are particularly good for advertising clinics, Dr Pava said. “We put in flu shot reminders and travel clinics and that sort of thing in our newsletters and that translates straight away in an increased uptake of those clinics.

“Because our patients are used to it now, our first four flu clinics are already booked out. With younger people, you can't reach them in any other way.”

DocAppointments was established with the GP market in mind and Dr Pava is not considering expanding it to the allied health sector due to the prohibitive cost of integrating with many different software products, he said.

“The problem with allied health is that they are using all sorts of different types of software. The costs to address all of those one are quite prohibitive. For each of them it requires quite a lot of investment.

“When we looked at allied health, more or less everyone is using a different practice management software system. General practice is what we know and do well so we'll stick with it.”

DocAppointments is looking at integrating with Stat next, and has also reduced its fee from $185 a month to $150 due to a decrease in the cost of programming and in the price of storage and hosting. Dr Pava said DocAppointments was passing on those cost reductions to customers.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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