The introduction of a live patient booking system has resulted in a dramatic reduction of waiting lists and missed appointments for specialist therapy care in Leicestershire, according to the software manufacturers.

Ethitec, makers of the Tiara 9 specialist administration, records and appointment-booking software, have claimed that introducing a live appointments system based in a call centre reduced waiting times by up to two-thirds. The system allows patients to choose where to book appointments in areas including physiotherapy, podiatry, dietetics, based on location and availability.

If another appointment is made or cancelled while the caller is on the phone, the change is immediately reflected on the telephonist’s screen.

“We are running a far more sophisticated version of Choose and Book,” Simon Taylor, commercial director of Ethitec, told E-Health Insider. "We can accept referrals from GPs in a number of ways.

“The referrals are clinican-defined. The referral could be through a piece of paper, email, a browser-based system, or our appointments engine."

The software connects into a central database which also contains a customisable electronic patient record system. The program is scalable enough to work with most specialist healthcare, as clinicans choose which information to enter and how it is displayed. All information is kept on a central server in SNOMED-CT format.

Taylor confirmed that the system would already be able to link in with Choose and Book when it is rolled-out; Tiara is currently the only adult therapy system outside of NPfIT that is sponsored by the programme. The company is currently building relationships with LSPs so it can link into NPfIT seamlessly.

Tiara9 project manager for Leicestershire Health Informatics Service, Derek Coker, said: “Tiara9 has given therapists a toolset they can work with to make the service improvements they have identified as necessary to the delivery of better patient care."