Social media, content, PR, sales consultant @ Healthy Startups
One feature of the trade show at the recent Melbourne GPCE was the plethora of practice management and appointment booking startups/ services on show. Australia is home to nearly 5000 general practice clinics, and on my count there are at least 10 providers offering online appointment booking and/or practice management software.
The services range from products built by people who personally manage a general practice through to products that could easily be used in a veterinary clinic or hairdressing salon. Some of the tools only focus on making it easier for patients to book appointments while others offer a full suite of practice management tools.
Who wins in a crowded market?
While talking with Gordon Cooper, CEO and Founder of Appointuit, it became clear to me that software/ products built to make it easier for patients to book appointments won't win - and neither will solutions targeted only at the practice. In a world of constant software/ OS/ device fragmentation the solution to time/ practice management and appointment bookings will lean towards hollistic and cross platform/ cloud based solutions.
Time is only one challenge
Mobile/ internet technologies that make it easier to manage/ book appointments are certainly a bonus - they make it easier for practices to manage and fill appointments and make it 'frictionless' for patients to find a time that suits them for a visit to the doctor. What about billing, demand management, patient databases, social media and email marketing, patient acquisition and retention?
All of these are challenges faced by a busy general practice. In a workplace that is time strapped, and perhaps resource/ cash strapped, the last thing that the practice manager and doctors want to be doing is installing a myriad of tools/ services when none of them 'talk' or integrate with each other.
The closest thing that I saw to a 'whole of practice management' tool at GPCE was Appointuit - the service benefits patients and practices and offers appointment booking online and via smart phone apps, customised appointment types, notifications and reminders, integration with a range of other practice management software and is built by people who own their own practice.
At the time of writing I don't have an affiliate deal with any of the providers listed in this article, so it makes no difference to me which software your practice chooses. I will simply ask this: your patients are online, they are booking/ purchasing services online and on their phones. Booking their medical appointments online and/ or on their phones is not a significant jump from all their other shopping activities undertaken on their mobile device. So, if it really is time for innovation in general practice... What are you waiting for?
* Disclosure: I attended 2 days of the Melbourne GPCE on a complimentary media pass, sponsored by the conference organiser Reed Medical Information.
None of the companies featured in this post paid in any way to be in the spotlight.