In 2020 new functionality - the patient booking window - was introduced in e-RS to allow providers to set a ‘booking window’ for each clinical priority that a service supports.
As part of the management of routine and urgent capacity, providers can ensure patients are able to book a future outpatient appointment within a specified booking window, for the priority of the referral.
This functionality can help providers manage which referrals they will accept with a booked appointment (for example, urgent and two week wait) and which they would prefer to manage from the ‘Appointment Slot Issues’ (ASI) worklist (for example, routine), allowing them to triage the referral and book the appointment when ready to do so.
Patient booking window scenario 1
A provider can make their urgent priority appointment slots available within the required timescale (to allow urgent referrals to still be booked, if required) and set their ‘Routine Booking Window’ to start after the end of the polling range. This would ensure that the service is still visible to referrers for any routine referrals, but that they would all come to the provider as ASIs, to be triaged and recorded on the patient tracking list (PTL) and then managed at a future date.
Below is a diagram showing slots available in e-RS only:
Patient booking window scenario 2
Having used the patient booking window as per scenario 1, providers can make further use of this feature to reintroduce routine appointment slots for patients and referrers to book into directly. This reduces the admin overhead of continuing to manage referrals as ASIs.
Before doing this, it is important that providers understand the size of their waiting lists to determine an appropriate date from when new appointments can be offered on e-RS for routine referrals. The patient booking window can be reviewed and adjusted accordingly as waiting times are reduced.
Below is a diagram showing how a provider can reintroduce routine appointment slots to e-RS, taking their current waiting list into account ( and still allow urgent or 2WW appointments to be booked).
Using the patient booking window as above is recommended rather than reducing the e-RS slot polling range to zero.
Important points to note if continuing to set the polling range to zero:
- setting a polling range to zero will remove ALL appointments of every priority from each service this change was applied to
- even when reducing slot polling to zero days, if an appointment is cancelled in either e-RS or PAS (and not the actual clinic slot in the clinic template on PAS), and an appointment is cancelled ‘today’ that slot will still be visible to patients (who have already been accepted into that service) to re-book into until the next overnight poll