Doctors' offices across the country are beginning to offer appointment bookings via TV set-top boxes and mobiles, adding to a list of network services for non-surfers or those not owning a computer. EMIS, tech-services provider to the UK medical sector, reports that over 1,100 GP surgeries are now set up for its interactive TV …
A way to beat all the wrinklies who seem to have my local surgery booked solid for months at a time!
And even better, it's a way they would never be able to understand, or use themselves!
You know the thing that goes "ring ring"....
So what is wrong with picking up your phone and dialling your GP's number?
In theory this is actually a good idea, but in practical trems I can see this being one more cheque that should be being spent on hospital care, wasted on a system that wont work.
Appointment just poping up on the system will cause havoc on staff. And who will man it? GP secreterial staff? They have enough to deal with as it is. And what if the systm locks up on the SKY end? Who's to fix it?
These seem like petty points, but for every break-down, they'll loose alot of money. Under the current system, if someone can't take your call, all thats wastd is a phone call and time.
If I've got Sky but haven't got a PC
How am I reading this?
My doctor has taken appointments via mobile for years
All I have to do is dial the number and talk to the receptionist
@ Andy S.
In theory, phoning up the doctor's surgery makes complete sense.
But have you ever had to deal with the dragons on reception that doctors always seem to employ?
Perhaps the Sky system can be programmed to be terse, rude and presumptuous too!
Re: Bad Idea
Actually, EMIS practices have had the ability to access online appointment booking over the Internet for some time via EMIS Access (access.e-mis.co.uk), so an appointment "just popping up" can be a frequent occurance which they are quite used to, although the surgery still gets the say on who can book which appointments when.
Problem is when it goes wrong, then the surgery has to deal with a load of calls saying "I can't book my appointment - thats your fault" when frequently it is the setup EMIS use to offer the appointments over the internet that breaks for some reason or another.
As someone who supports the NHS both by paying taxes and being married to a Practice Nurse. I can only hold my head in my hands at this story.
There are so many initiatives and brilliant uses of technology thrown at problems that never existed that the whole system is on the point being FUBAR. Its not use of new tech thats the problem, but the duff implementation.
The diversity of systems in use mean that many nurses, and health care workers who move from 1 practice to another are having to learn the whole system from scratch. This makes for "End User Support Hell" and Un-Friendly Users. Throw into this equation the Key Performance Indicators giving 10 minute appointments for consultations and 5 minutes for something like blood tests. The latest plan is for Telephone Triage; call this number if you are not well and describe your symptoms over the phone to a nurse or doctor at your local surgery, or a call centre in Delhi.
The NHS would run like clockwork if it wasn't for the bloody patients- but hang on thats who it there to serve.
If you live where I do, the nearest A&E is 45 minutes in an ambulance, and an out of hours doctor could be up to 25 minutes away if they are not on a call.
Keep fit and healthy-it's your best chance!
RE: Bad Idea
It's not all doom and gloom... think about the people who don't have the option to just ring the surgery and book appoints between 9-5... also think of the old dears who know how to use teletext, but not a PC. Also think about not having to wait on the phone for 20 minutes, to find out that the appointment will be free in 3 weeks time.
The idea is good, not really experienced Emis myself so can't comment on the implementation.... but seriously, how hard can it be to find some free time in a database and let somebody book it.... not that hard.
So, in short - good idea, but if Emis do it badly, I will write the damn thing for the NHS free of charge... cos I'm cool like that! ;)
PS - I know one of the testers there, so there is at least one competent person over at Emis....
Point of clarification
"the EMIS release also seeks to push its other interactive government portals."
Actually "Looking Local", the government portal through which the GP booking is accessed, is not the work of EMIS.
EMIS develop the software which runs in the surgeries, and the EMIS Access web booking system, but the TV and mobile services were developed by Looking Local itself, with the two systems connected via a web services API.
I am writing to correct an error in your piece, Got Sky but no computer? Book yourself a doctor's appointment (24 July 2007).
EMIS is the UK's leading supplier of IT systems to primary care. We do not, as your article claims, operate any interactive government portals.
The Looking Local portal, which offers GP appointment booking and other public services, is run by the not-for-profit local government organisation, DigiTV.
Our partnership with DigiTV has enabled us to increase the availability of our existing internet appointment-booking service - EMIS Access - by making it available on new platforms, to the very real benefit of thousands of patients across the country.
Sean Riddell, Healthcare Managing Director, EMIS.
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