Just to prove I’m not completely selfish I thought I’d talk about a bit of EMIS I rarely use. Namely the “make an appointment” module. I’m not saying it’s bad, just I think it could be improved with some small tweaks.
Having watched my receptionists, I’m amazed at how fast they are using it and how they understand some of its options. However as a newbie, it strikes me that there are several obvious things missing from its functionality, that might help speed things up, that they are currently accepting and working around.
As a practice we are incredibly keen on continuity of care, that is encouraging patients to stick with the same doctor for the same problem. We think this has numerous benefits and the patients do seem to like it. Our figures suggest about 80% of every appointment that each doctor does is with their usual patients and we are proud of this. Now not all surgeries use this system though quite a few do and unfortunately the appointments module just appears to ignore this or make it harder.
Okay when you select a patient, it lists their usual doctor in the top right-hand corner of the screen and if you spot this and read it you can select that doctor when choosing an appointment, but this is time consuming and I don’t see why it can’t just default to offering routine appointments with the usual doctor as its default setting.
Another enhancement might be to list recent consultations on screen. This is another example of where despite being a very graphical interface, very little information is actually displayed on screen when it could be especially as a lot of our users are now using big monitors or dual screen displays. While we encourage continuity of care in the long term it also can be very useful in the short term, let me give an example small child presents with fever rash and other minor symptoms is told it’s viral and given a couple days. That old representative things are settling or getting worse. We would prefer where possible this child to be seen again by the same doctor knowing easily they’d seen recently would allow the receptionist of books this in an efficient manner. Okay at the moment they can ask the patient who did you see last or they can click to another screen scroll up and down but this all takes time when reality is some graphical user interface tweaks could make the information available instantly.
I think in general the pop-up box could be redesigned to give much more information and show more appointments. One of the complaints while doctors is often looked their appointments all get filled while the other doctors aren’t and I suspect this might be because it only shows the next six appointments and these might all be from the same Dr, it needs to show more.
While there is a filter system which is very useful, I still think it could be tweaked and have some added functionality particularly when trying to organise joint appointments for example with a doctor and the healthcare assistant. I have seen on the AccuRX website and interesting piece of software that runs alongside EMIS and prompts receptionists to ask questions and give them information both on practice protocols and local services so as to help signpost patients to other alternatives. While I haven’t tried this personally I think it sounds like a brilliant idea and I’d suggest people look into it.
Locally we are being encouraged to work in care communities, which are effectively localities and we are being told to try and think about what shared services we can offer the localities as a population. To its credit EMIS has cross organisational appointment booking working so people can book into clinics i offer, however it’s a separate menu and the user interface is no better and it appears to only lets lists be one or the other not both. Locally areas are talking about offering things like shared asthma and diabetes clinics that any patient in the locality can present to however making it difficult for the receptionist to book this appointment is going to slow down its adoption.