The waste and inefficiencies of missed appointments is bad enough in private practices. But now we are entering the age of the e-consultation, where large systems such as Intermountain Healthcare plan to turn most every encounter into a telemedicine encounter. Cheap, ubiquitous teleconferencing technology can now turn any visit to a primary care provider into a patient-centered care team huddle cutting weeks off the referral run-around.
But it only works if the right team of specialists, the PCP, and the patient are available at an agreed-upon time. All the broadband bandwidth in the U.S. won't matter if a specialist or a physician can't see her free and busy times at a glance and quickly coordinate with others on the team. Patients, too, need to see all their appointments at a glance, instead of scrolling through email or listening to recorded calls ad nauseam.
Big, proprietary solution providers such as Epic are offering their own solutions, but woe to the patient who has a provider or six outside one of those systems. And woe to large physician practices with a hodgepodge of EHR vendors to support.
And yet, I am optimistic that solutions are at hand for the diverse IT needs of healthcare.
The most recent evidence I have found comes from the U.S. Department of Veterans, which just completed its Medical Appointment Scheduling System (MASS) Contest.