There is a demand for direct appointment booking capabilities across multiple NHS services in England. This need stems from a strategic requirement to improve patient journeys and system efficiency. Therfore there is a need for a national standard that sets out what appointment booking solutions should and should not be able to do.
For example, Urgent and Emergency Care (UEC) has always been provided locally and things like the ability to book appointments and transfer care was dealt with locally or internally within a service, meaning they were often done using the same IT system. Local evolution of care systems gave rise to a largely heterogeneous IT infrastructure across the country.
The heterogeneous IT infrastructure is a blocker to directly booking appointments and transferring patient care between services and as such a capability gap exists.
Some proprietary solutions have been created to provide a tactical solution for appointment booking interoperability between services. Nevertheless, there is a common list of issues and gaps that system suppliers and service providers have identified around these solutions. The biggest gaps are currently:
a lack of clearly defined appointment booking workflow that can be applied consistently across all services
a lack of an appointment registry / index that allows services to easily find out if a patient already has an appointment booked
a lack of business rules around how appointment booking should be handled when happening across regional borders (introduces financial, political, and accountability challenges).
System suppliers and service providers alike have asked for standardisation of the appointment booking technical specification and workflow in urgent care.