Master of the Information and Communication Technology by Research
School of Information Systems & Technology - Faculty of Informatics
Hu, Hongxiang, Design of a web service based prototype appointment system for improving the patient access to primary health care service, Master of the Information and Communication Technology by Research thesis, School of Information Systems & Technology - Faculty of Informatics, University of Wollongong, 2010. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/3138
Research Aim and Questions: This research aims to develop a computer-based appointment system, which could integrate with the existing clinical information system and improve the patient access to the services offered by both General Practitioners (GPs) and Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) in a primary health care clinic Centre Health Complex (CHC). To achieve this requires the development of an understanding of the features and processes of patient booking in the primary health care environment; the identification of the gaps of the existing patient booking system; and a scheme of an improved system, which could fill these gaps. The output of this project is a prototype of patient appointment system built on web service technology.
Research background: To acquire a routine appointment from a GP or an AHP, a patient may need to wait more than several weeks in CHC. Patient's long waiting time is always accompanied with some series access problems such as missed appointments in the practice. Consequently, some patients are driven from primary health care to Emergency Department (ED) and add pressure to the overburdened hospital system. The patient’s access problem is initiated by the traditional appointment system, which is based on a basic fixed schedule for booking patients. It does not record a patient request if the request is not met; therefore, it has missed the essential baseline data about the patient’s actual demands. Without this information, the practice could not plan effectively to fully meet the demands of the patients for primary care services. Research Methodology: This research followed a standard software development process – waterfall model. Three phases of study were carried out, including (1) requirement analysis, (2) system design, and (3) prototyping and unit testing. First, a filed study was conducted in the CHC to collect information about the features and processes of patient booking and the IT infrastructure in the clinic. The weakness of the practice workflow and the IT infrastructure were identified. Then the design of the new appointment system was proposed to plug these gaps. Finally, a prototype of the proposed appointment system was built.
Result and Conclusion: This design and prototype appointment system was influenced by the general idea of the Advanced Access (AA) model. Its workflow was developed following the general process of AA: (1) setting up the access target; (2) monitoring the patient’s demand; and (3) planning the provider’s supply to meeting patient’s demand. The proposed appointment system was composed of four modules as: Request module, Schedule module, Performance module and Strategy module. The role of each module was to manage patients’ appointment requests, manage the providers’ supply, monitor practice performance and provide clinic recommendations for taking appointments respectively. In order to be compatible with the existing IT infrastructure, this appointment system was built on web services technology, so that both GPs and AHPs could benefit from the inventive management process and integrated interface.
Future Direction of This Project: Due to the time limit, the implementation and evaluation were not conducted for this project. The prototype appointment will be implemented in CHC in the future, when the new features we have designed for this appointment system for improving patient access will be tested and justified.
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