DocAppointments launches customised practice app service

Online appointment booking provider DocAppointments is expanding the services it offers to general practices, including the ability to customise apps, better engage with patients by providing health information on a practice's website and providing online presence management for busy GPs.

DocAppointments founder, Tasmanian GP Calin Pava, said the customised app service was a direct request from surgeries using the DocAppointments app, which already has the ability to include the practice's logo.

However, the app also allows patients to see other practices and their doctors' availability, so the new service will allow practices to offer the app to their patients providing just that practice's information.

“We have developed a standard where different options are available on the app, so we can adapt some of the buttons to be specific to that surgery,” Dr Pava said. “For example, if a practice has six locations, an individual surgery would like to have an app that shows only their locations.

“We can adapt our app so they have a couple of specific buttons that they can customise for whatever their workflow is.”

The generic DocAppointments app allows practices to make appointments immediately available, to show which doctor accepts new patients and which doesn't, and a new feature also allows selected patients to send a request for a repeat prescription, which they can then pick up from reception at their convenience.

Dr Pava said repeat prescriptions is a free feature and practices can choose their own way of billing patients for this service.

For the customised app, he said the cost to a practice would be about $1900. "The surgery can then use their own app for their own patients but other patients who are using our generic app, they will still see you listed.”

DocAppointments is also building a function to better engage with existing patients by providing them with access to clinically validated and factual health information on the practice's own website and through their app.

The new service is designed as a way to confront the problem of Dr Google, in which patients research conditions online with no way of assessing what is factual information and what is not.

“We are currently building this into our software and it will provide practices with the ability to provide curated information based on their topic of choice,” Dr Pava said. “Then when they come in at least they have valid information and that actually saves me time as a doctor, as I can talk on a different level to them. They already know the basics about their condition.”

In the future, Dr Pava also plans to build in a function to allow patients to ask a question about their condition through the website. He and his team have been in discussions with an Australian company that specialises in providing healthcare information about this.

“What we want to do is increase the surgery's engagement with their own patients, to educate the patients that when they have question about their health, they look on their surgery's website first and have access to these fact sheets,” he said.

“We are talking with this company about integrating their fact sheets and the question facility into our surgery's website and into our software for the app. It will be through our software but via their portal.”

DocAppointments is also moving into online presence management, in which the company will handle a practice's or a doctor's online identity. Many GPs are too busy to have an online presence and many practices aren't equipped to use social media to its fullest extent, so DocAppointments will offer a service in which it manages it instead.

Dr Pava said that in addition to maximising the opportunities for patient engagement and communication offered by social media, the service will be a response to the growth in doctor rating websites.

“These days, if you going to book a restaurant or a hotel you look at the reviews online. Everybody does it, and they are starting to do that with doctors as well. About five years ago, only about two or three per cent of our patients were doing this, but the last survey we did in our surgery, which is in a rural area and the patients don't really have that much choice of doctors, 30 per cent of them Google everything. I'm assuming that in urban areas it is much higher.”

The service will also manage practices' Facebook pages or email marketing strategies if they wish. Dr Pava said it would be financially beneficial for practices in being able to fill appointments and promote health checks and the like.

“Most practices don't have the expertise or the time to do this sort of thing so the easiest thing is for us to take over.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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