With millions of flu and COVID-19 vaccinations needed this winter, primary care organisations are facing huge pressure to schedule and deliver appointments to their patients. Over the summer, our team got together to build a new, integrated system to help EMIS and SystmOne users invite multiple patients for their vaccination appointments all in one go.
These features are known as the Booking Module, and they include the ability to invite a cohort of patients, or an individual patient, for a face-to-face or telephone appointment with their local practice. This can be particularly effective for the booking of vaccinations such as flu or polio.
The Booking Module builds on our leading role in digital vaccination booking throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This saw our team design and roll out a vaccination booking system in just four weeks that was used to manage almost 30 million lifesaving vaccinations.
What problem does The Booking Module solve?
The Booking Module aims to tackle the way many GP practices have historically managed appointment booking and vaccination programmes. These methods often involve sending letters, making phone calls and inviting patients to contact the practice directly – resulting in excessive use of printing, increased telephone queues and no streamlined way to see who has or has not booked an appointment.
Similarly, many admin staff ring up individual patients to ask them to book in their vaccination one by one, wasting valuable time and resources that could otherwise be spent delivering patient care. Reducing paper, postage and telephone queues, here’s how one of our users has been finding the Booking Module features:
"I think Accurx Batch Self-Book is the most amazing thing ever [...] It’s been amazing for our flu clinics. It has saved us many hours of work, plus paper ink and postage [...] It’s easy to use. I can’t say anything negative about it. I love it.” – Practice Manager, Wilmslow
How The Booking Module works
There are two core parts to the Booking Module:
- (1) Self-Book, which can be used to invite individual patients to book an appointment for any slot type when composing a new SMS message via the Accurx toolbar, or when replying to a request in their inbox.
- (2) Batch Self-Book can be used to invite a cohort of patients to book a specific slot type, such as a flu vaccination, in one go via Accurx's Batch Messaging feature.
There are three basic steps for using the The Booking Module:
- Using The Booking Module, practice staff can send a patient an SMS with a booking link for an appointment. This can go either to an individual patient they’ve selected or a large cohort of patients simultaneously. This message may say, for example, “You are due for your annual flu vaccination. To book, please follow this link within 48 hours.”
- Invited patients then receive a text message with a unique booking link. Once they click on their link and verify themselves using their date of birth, they can choose a time slot up to six weeks in the future.
- Once the patient books in, they are automatically booked into the chosen slot type in the GP practice’s clinical appointment book in EMIS or SystmOne.
The Booking Module has already seen over a million patients booked into their flu vaccination
In the 10 weeks since the launch of the Booking Module, it’s already having an impact for both patients and healthcare professionals - particularly as we enter flu season.
“Flu season is always incredibly busy in primary care, even at the best of times. With such a huge volume of patients to book in, our teams are placed under immense pressure. This new booking feature from Accurx is going to revolutionise the way we organise our vaccination programme. Through one simple text message, the time our GP staff spend scheduling vaccination appointments will be dramatically reduced, giving them more capacity to deliver vital patient care.” - Dr Amar Ahmed MBBS (Lond) DCH DRCOG MRCGP, Partner & GP Trainer, Wilmslow Health Centre
Given the Booking Module’s early impact, we’re confident that it will save practices vital time and reduce the manual processes involved in scheduling and booking appointments and vaccinations. By taking booking online, practices can reduce their telephone queues and offer easier access to care and a quicker, more efficient patient experience.
We estimate that, with The Booking Module, practices can save an average of 540 hours on the phone over flu season. This estimate is based on an average practice inviting 33% of their patient list for a vaccination via phone call. We assume an average time of 5 minutes per call (based on Accurx user calls) and each patient being called three times, as well as 2 minutes for coding information into the medical record (based on Accurx user calls).
We expect The Booking Module to continue to become a key part of our communication platform, which helps to connect everyone involved in a patient’s care, and are excited to see its impact in primary care going forward.
“Millions of adults and children were vaccinated against flu across the UK during last year’s flu season. This programme is a vital public health measure which our new booking feature aims to support through making it significantly easier for patients to book their vaccination by removing the friction of phone lines and enabling them to book in seconds. This is an important factor in maximising uptake to ensure population-level immunity.
“The vaccine programme falls under the responsibility of GP practices who are already under immense pressure amidst limited capacity and unprecedented demand. We build our features based on the feedback we receive from our users, so we’ve created this new booking feature to also help alleviate the workload for GP practices, allowing them to focus on delivering important patient care.” - Jacob Haddad, CEO and Co-Founder of Accurx
If you’d like to find out more about The Booking Module, you can visit this webpage or contact our support team for more information.