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Patient Appointment Scheduler

Patient Appointment Scheduler

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ppointment scheduling is basically the assignment of tasks to dates. In hospitals there is a huge amount of negotiations for fixing such appointments when treatments or examinations should be executed. Appointment Scheduler allows you to coordinate all aspects of providers' and patients' schedules from a single point. Healthcare organizations need to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.


Overview

The right scheduling system can help your staff and providers become more productive while improving service to patients. Appointment Scheduler is the ideal system for today's medical practice, combining sophisticated scheduling and management tools in a single cost-effective package. Appointment Scheduler allows you to coordinate all aspects of providers' and patients' schedules from a single point. We call it "one stop scheduling." This capability brings greater efficiency and productivity to an office and happier providers, patients, and staff.

The system is fully scalable, making it cost effective for small practices without sacrificing the sophistication and horsepower that a large multi-clinic practice requires. It is available in two versions to meet the budget and functionality requirements for all ambulatory care settings. Appointment Scheduler is fully integrated with Quality Excellence Patient Records and Medical Billing. Whether it's purchased separately or as part of an integrated package, Appointment Scheduler provides a powerful practice management tool that will improve the flow of your practice. It's truly a better way to schedule your day.

Benefits

Benefits - Better for Service Providers:

  1. Reduces the daily enemies of providers -- wasted time and scheduling mistakes
  2. Improves communication between front office staff and providers
  3. Maximizes use of the provider's day, using customized schedules -- providers do not have to fit into a mold
  4. Reduces downtime by allowing a provider easy access to their continuously updated schedule
  5. Improves patient flow management, thereby saving time and improving quality of patient service

Benefits - Better for the Staff

  1. Allows staff to make patient appointments quickly and more completely
  2. Reduces stress, mistakes and confusion among staff with use of the multi-user system
  3. Improves service to patients with easy access to patient information, appointment history and patient reminders
  4. Allows staff to schedule high volume of appointments while still maintaining control of their day

Benefits - Better for the Health of the Practice:

  1. Allows the office to choose the Appointment Scheduler system that is right for them
  2. Provides valuable insight into the daily details of the practice with the use of sophisticated reports
  3. Generates vital information to help improve efficiency and boost revenue
  4. Reduces late, no-show, missed and cancelled appointments

Technology

The Quality Excellence systems are built on solid and proven architecture. Quality Excellence is a client-server application that runs on industry-standard platforms. The client-server architecture allows the processing tasks to be shared between the client and server, increasing the resources available to the workstations. Quality Excellence provides an intuitive, easy-to-use graphical user interface while the server processes the requests and database transactions behind the scenes.

The system architecture of your electronic medical record and practice management software is crucial in defining its long-term capabilities. Patient Records offers a highly flexible system design, making it both suitable and affordable for small and large practices.

Technology - Scalable Design:
All of the Quality Excellence systems allow clinics to start small and grow as their needs change - without having to change systems. Quality Excellence's scalable design, built on key industry-standard, nonproprietary technologies that are crucial for long-term success, supports both the single-doctor clinic and the large multi-clinic enterprises.

Technology - Network Compatibility: The Quality Excellence applications run across Ethernet networks, supporting either Microsoft Windows NT/2000 or Novell NetWare network operating systems utilizing TCP/IP or IPX protocols. For wide area networks, we recommend using Windows NT Terminal Server/Windows 2000. The Quality Excellence applications can also be run over a wireless network. Battery-operated mobile devices can be run over wireless LANs utilizing standards such as the 802.11 or Open-Air standards.

Technology - Choice of Database: SQL databases, Quality Excellence supports both centralized and decentralized deployment models. Practices that use a single database server operate in a centralized environment. Patients stored in a single database can be accessed from single or multiple locations. Charts can be electronically secured by practice, offering greater security for multi-clinic installations.

Technology - Client Server: Supports a broad spectrum of client-server architecture. On the client side, Quality Excellence supports Windows 95/98, Windows NT/2000, or Windows XP. Server operating systems supported include Novell NetWare, Windows NT/2000.

Technology - Application Service Provider: In addition to being offered as a client/server application, Quality Excellence Enterprise can also be implemented as an ASP (Application Service Provider) application. This configuration brings Quality Excellence Enterprise into a practice via an Internet VPN (Virtual Private Network), eliminating the need to implement or maintain application and database servers. The applications can be accessed at any workstation that has Internet access and the VPN client installed. Both encryption (triple DES) and secure authentication (SecurID) are part of the ASP offering.

Scheduling and Task Structures

Before introducing a method for designing negotiation protocols for appointment scheduling, some specifics of the domain will be described. Appointment scheduling is basically the assignment of tasks to dates.In hospitals there is a huge amount of negotiations for fixing such appointments when treatments or examinations should be executed. However there are many constraints that make the appointment of a date rather sophisticated.

Treatment or examinations are tasks that mostly have to be done with a present patient. This leads often to an associated transportation problem. Single tasks are normally parts of a treatment plan which is specific for one patient. Due to the state of health of the patient or to task specific requirements the resulting schedule has to satisfy several temporal restrictions. Examples are predefined sequences of execution (remove plaster cast before x-ray) and necessary delays between investigations and other tasks (e.g. no meal before gastroscopy).

Not only the amount of constraints for appointment scheduling makes it a complicated task, the organizational structure makes worse. Many of treatments of examinations are performed by different organizational entities that autonomously manage their time plans. Additionally, the execution of tasks often requires the work of several agents, e.g. medical personnel. The involved agents (from different organizational entities) negotiate and agree upon appointments; every agent considers his own restrictions and preferences and integrates the appointment into a special time table for ward or functional unit.

Requirements for a Language for Appointment Scheduling:
The basis for negotiation forms a language that can be used for specifying the proposals that negotiation is about. We derive some requirements for a language that is expressive enough for specifying negotiations about appointments in the context sketched in the last section.

Intuitivity:

The language should be derived from human communication and intuitively understandable. Reproduction of negotiations by simulated agents is facilitated, as well as the implementation of negotiating software agents by a human programmer. In hybrid organizations negotiations performed in a human centered way which may improve human-agent interaction.

Consistency:
The protocols of the sending and the receiving agent have to be consistent without deadlocks, lifelocks or undefined reactions. Each speech act triggers a corresponding well defined reaction.

Extensibility: In complex scenarios it is necessary to construct and validate them iteratively. Thus negotiation protocols and content language should be extensible.

Separation of protocol structures and reasoning elements: A separation of invariant protocol structures from variant strategic reasoning elements is an important requirement for specifying different strategies in an efficient way.

Ability to express priorities and preferences: An agent may use priorities in its private reasoning process. As a consequence the agents must be able to talk about task or date priorities. Related to this, the language should provide a mean to communicate about preferred time and task assignments.

Ability to Reserve fixed dates: In real-world scenarios sometimes a short-time reservation precedes the actual appointment.

Expressability of Uncertainties:
If the duration to task performance is not fixed, appointments with estimated durations might be necessary. Another source of uncertainty may be a probability for cancellation. These requirements may have to be extended when more sophisticated scenarios are tackled. But as we focus on developing negotiation protocols, a reasonable, but not a complete language is sufficient for our aim.

Categories of Negotiation Contents:Depending on the domain further stories can be found. In the hospital domain one can identify the following three negotiation cases that form categories for episodic stories.

New Appointment:
The example story depicted above belongs to this category. It contains all stories in that appointments for previously unscheduled tasks are made. The basic new appointment negotiation can be extended in various directions: Service demanders may temporally reserve dates and go on negotiating about subsequent tasks; agents may interrupt the negotiation process for modifying appointments with other agents.

Modification of an existing appointment:Due to the dynamics of the hospital domain a need for changing an already fixed appointment may emerge.

Cancellation of an appointment:Unexpected events may make existing plans and appointments obsolete. On the side of a functional unit this may be caused by a breakdown of a machine or the arrival of an emergency. A change in the patients' state of health may also result in the cancellation of an appointment.

Intelligent Agent and Multi-Agent Systems in BusinessFor each of the three negotiation cases a general negotiation protocol can be defined based on analyzing the relevant stories.Before describing the protocols and their representations in more detail, the next section clarifies the atomic primitives of a protocol, namely the speech acts.

  1. Primary provider notification report
  2. Hospital use reports show admissions, discharges and average length of stay
  3. Automatic logging of appointments for an instant, permanent audit trail
  4. Missed appointment reports and mailers