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New research reveals e-booking system could significantly reduce hospital waiting lists

However, it still remains unclear whether the system will be accepted by healthcare management, despite the number of people waiting to be treated for care in hospitals reaching a record 718,000 in August.

The analysis of the Irish healthcare system, commissioned by Alpha Healthcare and completed in March, found that five specialties with the largest waiting lists (excluding gynaecology) would see their lists drastically reduce within six and 20 months if a new real time e-booking system was implemented.

It found Irish ENT waiting lists could be eradicated within 20 months; orthopaedics within six months; dermatology within 13 months; ophthalmology within eight months; and urology within six months.

The analysis applied assumptions based on Irish volume and capacity and used data on consultant numbers in each discipline and the estimated number of patients treated annually. 

The analysis was conducted by IT company Sorsix, which employed the system used to eradicate waiting lists in Macedonia.

Known as Sorsix Pinga, the IT system was implemented in Macedonia five years ago, where it slashed waiting lists within six months.

The system has doubled capacity since 2014 and now most patients referred to secondary or tertiary care in Macedonia are seen within one day.

The longest wait time is approximately two months for care or hospitalisation. 

 The Pinga integrated care electronic health system handles list management, patient administration, clinic management, practice management, real time digital referral, e-prescription, billing integration and clinical enterprise scheduling to the Macedonian national health system.

The system allows GPs and consultants to refer and book appointments directly via a central hub-and-spoke model, giving patients access to priority slots for urgent care.

Sorsix Pinga has subsequently been implemented in Serbia and Macedonia and has been praised by the Euro Health Consumer Index 2017 for its implementation.

The proposal has been presented to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), while the HSE is also examining systems in “that area”, Mr Liam Woods, HSE National Director of Acute Operations, told MI.

“We [HSE] are putting in place an electronic health record… That system will help us manage patients right through to their home, and it will do what we are seeing in the Macedonian environment,” said Mr Woods.

The NTPF is also examining waiting list systems used in Portugal and the UK, MI understands.

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