When it first appeared I was pleasantly surprised by the SMS feature built into the results inbound module of EMIS Web. Essentially if you have a mobile number of a patient and they haven’t opted out of SMS messages, you can send them a message telling them about their results, the idea being to save appointments and reception time as well as delivering a customer friendly interaction. As with many things in EMIS Web it could be vastly improved as I think they could do a lot more with it to make the user experience better, which I might explore in a separate blog. In my opinion their implementation also has a major IG issue in that it doesn’t record what message you’ve sent.
As well as SMS functionality in the results module EMIS will automatically SMS an appointment booking to a patient and remind them 24 hours before. This is a nice feature that helps reduce DNAs or phone calls to the practice checking appointment times and several companies such as iPLato have developed this adding 2 way SMS allowing patients to cancel appointments. These add ons also allow bulk messages announcing things like Flu clinics are now booking.
What is odd is apart from these cases and obviously having the code and infrastuture to send SMS, EMIS doesn’t let me as a GP send a patient a message.
I can think of lots of scenarios where I might want to send a message to a patient. I might want to send them a message about a letter that’s come in, a test result not on the automated system, a blood test I want them to have or I might want to answer a query they have sent in, that I don’t want to ring or write to them about. This latter case could be very time effiecnt. Patietns ring all the time and leave messages, ringing everyone takes time and asking reception to do it can lead to errors, so the abilty to send a SMS with a brief answer or message would be really useful.
Well AccuRx have done it and even better it’s free for the basic version. They are an API partner and their software installs and runs alongside EMIS. Similar to Docman it leaves a tab on the screen and when you have a patient selected you go to the tab and it “sucks” the patient’s data from EMIS into itself automatically. It also checks to see if they have opted out and it then presents you with a professional looking clean UI modern interface allowing you to send a SMS to your current patient.
It actually gives you a choice of several prebuilt templates and an override free text box. It works well. It’s one way or at least the free version is – I suspect they are going down a freemium model where add on extras, like two-way or read receipt cost. It records what you have sent in the notes and you can even send links to online patient info leaflets.
I really like AccuRx, I first came across them over a year ago, they were involved in trying to reduce antibiotic prescribing by sending patient info leaflets via SMS and it’s easy to see how that has pivoted into this. They also do some interesting stuff with pathways for receptionists helping them get the patient to the right person. I like their co-founder Jacob Haddad who I’ve met several times and I’ve spoken dealt with several of their London based support team who all seem bright and capable. I hope they start developing more useful apps.
I understand AccruRx are looking towards a second funding round shortly – It might be one to think about investing in!