So many things can now be booked and arranged over the Internet: a vacation, a table at a restaurant, event tickets, and even a bank account. For the customer, this is a great plus in terms of flexibility and less time wasted on hold; for the provider, it means less time spent on the phone by employees and a considerable increase in e¸ciency for everyone involved. Who gets on a train nowadays without looking at the timetable on their cell phone, choosing the right time independently, and booking the ticket online? Even pensioners and older people are more and more connected to the Internet and know how to use the advantages of this technology.
But what about the doctor’s appointment? This is the topic we want to address in this issue of digital doctors.
Our interview partner Ing. Stefan Keller, MBA, CEO of Doctena Switzerland and Austria, answered a few questions for us. For several years now, the trend in the health professions has also been toward booking appointments online. Getting to a doctor’s appointment can be a challenge, especially for people who are stressed about their jobs. In the morning before work, the doctor is not always open, at lunchtime you are often on hold for a long time or the doctor’s office is also closed, and even in the evening you can’t reach your family doctor every day.
INTERVIEW WITH STEFAN KELLER
med.ium: A doctor from Salzburg, whom we asked for a practice report, told us that Mednanny was the most sophisticated product on the market. He has not yet heard of Doctena. Our marketing specialist said that Mednanny and Doctena are the same company. To avoid possible confusion, how and why did Mednanny become Doctena?
Keller: Doctena is one of the leading providers of appointment booking solutions for physicians in Europe and is the market leader in six countries. In connection with its expansion strategy, Doctena acquired A3L e-solutions, which distributes the “Mednanny” product, in the fall of 2017. So “Mednanny” has become “Doctena-Mednanny.” By bringing the companies together, “Mednanny” users will benefit from Doctena’s development capacity and experience, as well as our products (e.g. “Doctena- Pro”), which complement “Mednanny’s” capabilities very well. A classic win-win situation.
med.ium: How does a physician benefit in his daily routine from such an online scheduling solution? In what way does the software support him?
Keller: Online scheduling is part of the Doctena solution. In addition to this, Doctena offers an appointment scheduler, which also makes scheduling in the practice much easier and faster. With online appointment booking, the patient selects his or her appointment independently, according to availability, which means that the booking effort for the practice approaches zero. Each practice is free to determine when they want to make which appointments available. In addition to online booking by patients, Doctena also offers other options, such as a referral module where referring physicians can book the appointment for patients directly with the specialist instead of sending a fax, as was often the case in the past. Also, appointment reminders to patients lead to increased patient loyalty and fewer missed appointments. The focus of this cloud-based software (no installation, accessible from anywhere) is ease of use for both the practice and the patient.
med.ium: Who is your target group? Is your software primarily of interest to elective doctors, or do overflow panel doctors also benefit from it?
Keller: Doctena is ideally suited for elective physicians as well as for health insurance practices of all specialties, although the needs may differ. The focus is on increasing the e¢ciency of practice processes, thereby saving time and reducing costs. The ability to book appointments online provides a service that many patients have been longing for, accessible 24/7 from anywhere, even outside of office hours. For practices looking to expand their patient base, online booking is also an important component, as potential patients can also book an appointment immediately.
med.ium: Let’s assume a doctor wants to offer his patients the possibility to book appointments online at any time and is now faced with the decision which online scheduling solution to use. His practice software fi rma would have such a solution, but he also fi nds some providers on the net. Now he is reading our article here. What criteria should he use to decide? (Where do you see the advantages of a pure online scheduling solution like Doctena compared to the solutions also offered by practice software ffi rms?)
Keller: When deciding which solution is best, the focus is of course on the individual needs of each practice. The integration into the existing system speaks for the online appointment booking solution of a practice software. However, Doctena has a large number of interfaces that establish this connection to renowned software solutions.
When comparing solutions available on the net, price is often the decisive factor. However, it must be remembered that these solutions are not normally tailored to medical practices and therefore cannot usually reflect the needs of a practice well. A hair salon has different appointment booking needs than a doctor’s office. What speaks in favor of Doctena in the medical practice is that the online scheduling is tailored to physicians and the integration options into the practice software are versatile. In addition, Doctena has a local presence in its markets to fully support practices during implementation. The success of online appointment booking stands or falls with the correct implementation. A well-functioning online appointment booking solution is more than just a “book now” button. Behind this is a great deal of know-how and experience (including the use on mobile devices), which Doctena brings with it and is constantly expanding with a 20-member development team.
med.ium: Why did Doctena decide against a rating system for physicians? In some cases, this is also offered by competitors. Where do you see the opportunities but also the risks for physicians in an evaluation system?
Keller: This is not (any longer) quite correct. Doctena offers physicians the option to receive feedback or ratings from patients. However, because we see ourselves primarily as an e¢ciency enhancement product, the focus is not on ratings or our platform for finding physicians, unlike some other providers. In many areas today, reviews are an important means for customers and also patients to choose their provider. However, evaluating a physician is not straightforward in many ways, especially when it comes to evaluating a physician’s performance. For physicians, the assessment also harbors dangers – this has been made clear by disputes and even lawsuits abroad. Doctena has decided to go a new way and not to rate doctors with stars, but to give recommendations. The advantage is that the negatives are eliminated and at the same time the patient’s need for a recommendation (because this is what patients are looking for) is met. Doctena is currently in the process of implementing this system in Austria, following other countries.
med.ium: How can Doctena be integrated into the physician’s homepage? What effort does the physician/user have to put in to incorporate the software? Is there any support from your side for the doctor?
Basement: The integration of Doctena into the homepage is extremely simple. There are two possibilities here. The first is to link to the doctor’s professional page on the Doctena platform, where the booking takes place. For brand-conscious practices, there is also the option of designing the professional page according to their own color codes. “branded page”. Another option is to use a “branded” widget/plugin. Another option is to have the booking carried out completely on the practice page via a widget/plugin. For this you only have to copy a provided code into the existing homepage. This can be done by yourself or with the help of the webmaster. Doctena can be helpful here, but this is usually done by the practice (or webmaster) itself. The integration is usually a matter of a few minutes, but it is essential for the success of the online appointment booking.
med.ium: Does Doctena’s software communicate with the physician practice software? Which system interfaces exist, which are planned? With which operating systems can Doctena communicate? Apple Calendar, Windows and also Linux?
Keller: Yes, Doctena includes interfaces to many renowned practice software solutions, including Alphadoc, Kopfwerk, Ganymede and more. Doctena has an oõ en interface through which software vendors can interface with the appointment booking solution. However, Doctena can also connect individually to practice software solutions if the need arises. Since the Doctena solution is deployed in the cloud, it is operating system independent. The only requirements are a browser and Internet access. The advantage of this is the elimination of maintenance costs, automatic updates, but also the possibility to use Doctena on tablets and smartphones.
med.ium: If there is anything else you would like to tell us about online scheduling and briefly introduce your product, we would be delighted!
Keller: The question of online scheduling is not if or when it will come. It is already here! An ever larger part of society buys, reads, works and organizes its everyday life online. Booking appointments at the hotel, at the hairdresser’s or at the restaurant is indispensable today. In just a few years, the majority of medical appointments will be booked online, and in the endõ ect, online appointment booking will be a must for every practice sooner or later, just like the computer or the homepage. So much from a patient perspective. For the practice itself, optimized appointment booking is also important to shift capacity away from the telephone to value-added activities, analogous to the introduction of the computer or fax. Doctena covers exactly these two facets a) the optimization of the booking of appointments in the practice b) a service that meets the needs of patients. Individual needs vary from practice to practice and Doctena has a solution for most of these. The best way is a non-binding consultation to discuss which topics are in the foreground in the respective practice and which goals are to be achieved. After that, the implementation of an adequate appointment booking solution is
We also conducted an interview with Dr. Emanuel Gollegger and thus gained exciting insights from the practice. For Dr. Gollegger, flexibility from the physician’s perspective is also an important criterion for the online scheduling option on his homepage. As a practicing elective physician, emergency physician and secondary physician in two Salzburg hospitals, every appointment booked online without his intervention is worth a lot to him. The appointments are displayed in a structured manner, sorted by category and often accompanied by brief information from the patient about the reason for the visit.
The patient can freely choose his appointment from a predefined list, around the clock and even on weekends. Forgetting appointments is also almost impossible for patients, as most online appointment booking providers send out reminder messages.
TRANSCRIPT OF THE INTERVIEW WITH DR. GOLLEGGER
When he started his elective practice, Dr. Gollegger was looking for a flexible but structured appointment booking system. Due to his medical work in the LKH Salzburg as well as in the private hospital Wehrle and as an emergency doctor, it was important that he would not have to make every appointment by phone. Another reason for an online appointment booking system was that he had already experienced the online appointment system very positively himself as a patient. Better scheduling of appointments and reminder text messages for patients were important to him. During his research, the very mature solution of “Mednanny” stood out.
Since he had already created a doctor’s profile on the doctor search and evaluation platform “Docfinder” and this provider had just introduced online appointment scheduling, the choice of software partner was obvious. He received very professional support in creating his profile. Meanwhile book ca . of his patients independently their appointments online, which is a great relief for him as a doctor. When choosing an appointment, only free times are made available for the patient to choose from, and much of the information about the type of exam needed can already be communicated over the Internet. This would allow him as a physician to prepare better and have more time for the patient himself.