IMS Maxims has announced the immediate availability of its Integrated Choose And Book (ICAB) system which enables NHS and independent healthcare providers with older patient administration systems to start offering date and time slots to the central Choose and Book service and take bookings by return.

The system could help trusts break through the barriers that have beset the implementation of the new service offering patients a choice of places to receive treatment and rapid electronic booking.

Earlier this month, E-Health Insider reported that none of England’s primary care trusts was expected to reach the target of 50% electronic bookings set for the end of October. The 100% target set for the end of December looks even more challenging.

The ICAB solution is aimed at trusts with patient administration system (PAS) that are non-compliant with the Connecting for Health (CfH) Choose and Book service. IMS Maxims estimates that around 30% all trust legacy PAS systems are currently unable to provide the messaging required by CfH Choose and Book.

This means real-time date and timeslot information cannot be made available to the central service. Without this information the GP cannot make the appointment when they are with their patient.

Chief executive, Brian Ennis, said: "Maxims ICAB provides full Choose and Book functionality to those hospital PAS systems that are not able to integrate with, and provide the high level interactive messaging required by, the central CfH Choose and Book service.

"It delivers the best possible standard to patients and GPs, giving them the ability to book specific appointment slots in their chosen hospital. ICAB also substantially reduces operating costs relative to the Indirectly Bookable Service [a stop gap solution] and provides the necessary full functionality rather than the minimal data available under IBS."

The Maxims Scheduler, which forms the core of ICAB, is currently used as part of an award winning implementation at Clatterbridge Hospital, Wirral, and the Choose and Book interface software that enabled Maxims PAS to become CfH-compliant.

The Maxims PAS is also in use, helping to deliver choice and enable bookings for patients, at acute trusts in Blackpool and Hammersmith, west London.

IMS say a number of private healthcare organisations who want to be fully linked into the central Choose and Book system have also expressed an interest in ICAB.

In tandem with the announcement about ICAB, IMS also announced an Alliance Agreement with an established channel to both the NHS and the private healthcare markets; under the agreement both companies will cooperate in marketing, supplying and supporting ICAB.

The ‘established channel’ has not been named but is understood to be a major player in healthcare IT in England.