15 Jun 2014

Nearly a third of Australians surveyed are choosing to book GP appointments online rather than calling a practice, according to a survey from Australia’s largest online booking system and health marketplace, HealthEngine.

The trend has fuelled the growth of online health directory and booking services, empowering patients with a more convenient way to book and manage their health appointments. With over 80 percent of the Australian population now online, GP practices are starting to understand the value of online health services to their business and are reaping the rewards.

According to the survey , close to 20 percent of consumers left their regular practice because they didn’t offer online bookings. A further one in 10 said that if they didn’t book online they would have gone to their local emergency department.

GP and HealthEngine CEO, Dr Marcus Tan, said that this increasing trend marks a significant shift in the way primary health is delivered. “GP practices need to start playing in this space to ensure that all Australians are able to access fast and appropriate medical advice.”

“We have already seen a circa 150% growth in online bookings over the past 12 months and this only going to continue to increase,” said Dr Tan. HealthEngine is forecasting to grow to over 2,000 GP Practices over the next 12 months.”

With over 600,000 monthly visitors and over four million appointments already published, the service is rapidly increasing its national footprint every month. Ocean Village Medical Centre in Wembley Downs, Western Australia, was one of the first practices to sign up to HealthEngine and saw an immediate improvement in front desk efficiencies and an increase in patient numbers.

Anthony Lau, Practice Manager for the centre, said, “HealthEngine seamlessly integrated with our practice management system and website. It makes it easy to fill spare appointments, while reducing the amount of administration required when managing new and existing patients.” HealthEngine seamlessly connects with most GP practice software including Best Practice, Practice 2000, Zedmed, Pracsoft and Genie. For practices that don’t use standard practice management software systems, HealthEngine provides a simple solution that takes just minutes for practices to implement.

High Street Medical Clinic based in Prahran, Victoria, began using HealthEngine in October 2012. General Manager, Liz Dickson, said it delivers a significant number of new patients to the clinic every month. “HealthEngine has been pivotal in customising the clinic’s needs to keep pace with the online revolution, as more patients use their smartphones and tablets to book appointments. “Nobody chooses when they get sick. Our patients love the convenience of booking appointments 24/7, even in the middle of the night if necessary,” Liz Dickson said.

HealthEngine has also attracted the attention of major investors and last year benefitted from a $10.4m boost from Telstra and Seven West Media, which secured significant stakes in the business after realising the huge potential in the online health directory.

Dr Tan said, “Thanks to this injection from Telstra and Seven West Media, HealthEngine was able to accelerate its growth and take a clear leadership position in the market. We already have a substantial following amongst patients and a strong ranking on search engines, and with more practitioners we will undoubtedly increase this reach as we expand in to new areas.”

HealthEngine is currently offering GP Access Grants of up to $2000 to select practices in areas where identifiable gaps in the market exist. The grant aims to bring the benefits of HealthEngine to practices in a risk-free way whilst also increasing the number of available appointments patients can find and book in their local area.