How digitalization of medicine improves treatment
A lack of doctors, bureaucratic complexity and an aging society mean that physicians have less and less time to deal with patients themselves. Read this blog article to find out how the digitalization of medicine can significantly improve the quality of service simply by booking appointments online.
A relatively common disease, such as a cold, requires a lot of time and effort on the part of the patient. It starts with the organization of an appointment. As a rule, doctors' surgeries can only be reached by telephone during office hours. Especially then, however, staff often have little time to make a phone call, because the waiting room is full and the patients are waiting in line when they register. Persons who, due to their constitution, often visit a doctor must constantly deal with this protracted process.
Online booking, which has been common in many other industries for years, such as tourism and culture, can not only lead to a better customer and pardon patient experience, but can also shorten the internal processes of doctors' practices themselves. However, this saving would primarily benefit the physician: more time for his patients.
Central booking systems offer 10 advantages
Already an individual web-based solution of a practice has a number of advantages for both patients and medical practices. However, even more advantages are offered by central online booking systems, where the user can search among many different doctors:
- Patients do not have to adhere to the office hours to make appointments, but can do so around the clock.
- With a reminder service, patients can be reminded of their appointments by e-mail or SMS shortly before. Such a function is particularly useful in the case of recurrent check-ups, preventive measures or vaccination appointments that can only be performed once or twice a year.
- If appointments become available at short notice, they can be reassigned to patients who have entered themselves on a waiting list online.
- If the waiting times due to emergencies are longer than expected, patients can be notified via SMS. In this way, appointments can also be postponed if necessary.
- The patient can make an appointment with a doctor via smartphone. This function is particularly useful if the user is not in his or her usual environment and has no idea of the local medical services. For example, during a holiday or a business trip.
- An online calendar on the website of a practice shows the patient the free appointments without having to contact the staff.
- Such a calendar is mobile and can be viewed and administered by all the staff of a doctor's surgery from anywhere.
- During the conversation with the patient, the doctor can still book a referral online.
- When the appointment is booked, the patient can specify the reasons for his or her doctor's visit. This information can also be retrieved in a structured way - for example by means of questionnaires. With this advance information, the doctor can save time and estimate the duration of the appointment in advance.
- In the search for an appointment, the patient does not have to search several doctor's offices by telephone, but can see which doctor in his area has time for him.
Many providers are chanting for doctors and patients
There are already several providers of such central appointment platforms. Mednanny, a company that has developed its transaction platform together with the University of Vienna and FH Technikum Wien, is considered the market leader in Austria. The Social Insurance for the Self-Employed (SVA) uses Mednanny's technology, for example, to offer its policyholders and contractors an online appointment service. Only in November 2017 Mednanny was taken over by Doctena from Luxembourg, founded in 2013. More than 10,000 doctors across Europe can be booked through this platform. The company offers its range of services in the entire D-A-CH region, as well as in Belgium, the Netherlands and of course Luxembourg. The Doctena team is constantly expanding its range of services. Recently, for example, a "digital waiting room" function was integrated into the solution. The practice team can track the time and duration of each patient's stay in real time, from reception to their departure from the surgery. This data serves as the basis for making processes even more efficient and patient-friendly.
Platform economics: The winner takes it all
A continuous further development of the service offering is also necessary to be successful on the market. This is already highly competitive and works according to the most important rule of platform economics: The winner takes it all. In order to bind users more strongly to themselves, some of these booking platforms are now switching to offering users personalized services when they register. At Mednanny, registered users can use services such as a vaccination passport, a family health folder and a menstrual calendar.
Another major player is the French platform Doctolib, which expanded into Germany last year. The Doctolib system connects the online booking platform with a calendar tool for doctors. The resulting real-time scheduling of appointments, which Mednanny also offers, has allowed the company to grow strongly in France. Doctolib's goal is to become the market leader in Europe. Currently, over 30,000 doctors and therapists can be booked on Doctolib. Jameda is the market leader in Germany. 275,000 doctors are registered on the search portal, a subsidiary of Burda Verlag. Jameda also offers an online booking facility. However, the focus is on the doctors' assessments by patients.
Strong reservations about online consultation hours
When it comes to the digitization of medicine, scheduling appointments or the assessment of doctors is certainly an important, but nevertheless only one of many aspects. The possibilities but also the fears and dangers increase rapidly when it comes to diagnoses. This is demonstrated by the example of DrEd. Patients can communicate their concerns to the physicians of the London-based online practice via video, telephone or questionnaire. The physicians then decide whether a consultation, the continuation of an existing treatment or the start of a new treatment is medically indicated and can be carried out by telemedicine. If possible, patients receive treatment instructions in a patient account set up for them. When a prescription is issued, DrEd can send the prescription directly to a mail-order pharmacy at the patient's request. The patient pays for the consultation and receives an invoice. DrEd wants to facilitate access to medical care and close the gaps in health care in the country. In Austria, health experts warn against the use of such digital consultation hours.
Conclusion: How the digitalization of medicine improves treatment
To get a doctor's appointment in Austria, you still need a telephone and sometimes a lot of patience. Digital tools that help to offer and organize appointments would save the patient as well as the doctors a lot of effort and trouble. Ultimately, the quality of treatment would be enhanced by the fact that the physician could devote more time to the patient and his or her suffering. There are already numerous web-based solutions that allow doctors to make online bookings. Integrating them into everyday practice is not too difficult for doctors. At the same time, it is a low-threshold step to start one's own digital transformation.
Born and raised in Vienna. Since 2012 she has been in charge of Business Development at LEAD Innovation with the functions marketing, sales and communication.