UltraGenda has revamped the booking application it built for the St Jan hospital in Bruges because referring physicians disliked the initial booking process.
UltraGenda built UG Broka for the hospital in 2005. A case study written by Helga De Neve, chief information officer at the hospital, and released by the company says that “although the system worked very well from a technical and security point of view, it was never really accepted by the referring physicians.
“As much as they liked the idea of referring patients online, they did not want to waste their time doing appointment bookings.” The case study says that UltraGenda has received similar feedback from sites in other countries.
In late 2007, UltraGenda started work on a new version of the portal, which has now been split into two applications – one for referring physicians and one for patients.
The hospital now defines the referral and booking rules, the referring physicians refer patients according to these rules, but it is left to patients to book their appointment by telephone or via the patient portal.
“The challenge is no longer technical or functional – the system works and is fast and secure,” De Neve says. “The challenge is now cultural.”
Many hospital doctors are concerned about opening up their schedules for e-booking, in case referring physicians or patients violate the rules, or over-fill their time.
And because referring physicians don’t know which departments have published referring protocols and which haven’t, some still prefer to refer by letter instead of on-line.
The number of patients who book online is also small, although many review their appointment and information about it through the portal.
Despite this, the case study argues that the new approach offers the potential for a “revolution” in which workload is reduced and patients have their demands more fully met.