Tahoe Forest Hospital begins online scheduling | SierraSun.com
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Tahoe Forest Hospital begins online scheduling

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

Tahoe Forest Hospital will be the test ground for new technology that will make health care more accessible for its local population and visitors alike.

And the best part of all – it’s all free.

Called Xtime, the computer system will provide online 24-7 real-time appointment scheduling. This will allow the hospital to lower scheduling costs, reducing the overall cost of care.

“Xtime’s online scheduling system will help us achieve our goal of becoming a center of excellence,” Joseph Ferrerra, TFH Director of Communications, said.

“It provides us with the capability to schedule patients from physician offices and from locations out in the community. This mechanism reduces the number of phone calls for all involved and keeps the patient on a fast track to health. From the first contact, the patient will feel the comfort of knowing they are being cared for.”

The orthopedic center treats a high number of patients with muscle and skeletal injuries – mostly due to easy accessibility to ski areas, lake resorts and mountain biking trails. The orthopedic center will use Xtime’s technology to maintain contact with every orthopedic patient throughout the local health care system, such as physician offices, emergency rooms, ski areas and athletic events.

According to Ferrerra, the first phase will include having the database system work from one physician’s office to another physician’s office within the hospital. This will help expedite the scheduling process, allowing personnel from one office to set up an appointment with another doctor in real-time, with immediate confirmation.

“It’s an operational savings,” Ferrerra said.

In the future, the technology could lend itself to work towards patients scheduling appointments from their homes, bill payments, telemedicine and networking with physicians from outside of the area.

Ferrerra, who came across Xtime at a medical conference, said TFH will be a test site, and staff will help the company get the bugs out to develop its product especially for the health care industry. Other potential health care businesses may look to TFH’s system as a model in the future, he said.

“It’s exciting for us to be moving forward on this but it’s challenging to be the first ones on the block,” he said. “There is caution in it. There’s work that needs to be done. We are working towards good, cost-efficient communication.”

He added, “This is the first time real-time scheduling has really been tried in health care. If it does work and everybody likes it, for us to be able to utilize this for free is a real benefit.”

Xtime, based in San Mateo, Calif., was founded in May 1999, and is the only enterprise-class platform for electronic appointments and reservations. Xtime pioneered time inventory management with the Time Inventory Management Engine (TIMEngine) that allows service businesses to conduct real-time transactions over the Internet. The application incorporates both Internet and phone-based voice recognition technology to make reservations and appointments.

If everything moves ahead as planned, Ferrerra said patients can start utilizing the service in five to six months.


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