How this Calderdale tech company created a secure NHS appointment system

Tim Mercer, CEO of Vapour Cloud, said the system would have a huge impact on easing pressure on staffing budgets.
Tim Mercer, CEO of Vapour Cloud, said the system would have a huge impact on easing pressure on staffing budgets.

Calderdale tech firm Vapour Cloud has developed a secure, automated appointment booking service for the NHS.

The new facility – which integrates seamlessly into the UK’s leading clinical system for GPs, EMIS Web – is designed to improve operational efficiencies and enhance access to care for patients.

Business Focus: Tim Mercer, founder of Vapour Cloud
Recognising the increased pressures being placed on GP receptions, and the difficulties associated with handling the rising number of incoming calls, the system allows patients to book, cancel or change their appointment, 24/7, using only their telephone.

A quick-book option will facilitate this process in less than 60 seconds, offering greater convenience for patients whilst having a significant impact on time savings for surgeries.

By entering their date of birth and registered phone number using only the telephone keypad, a patient is identified via a secure database look-up.

If they’re calling from the registered number, they simply press the hash key. When the process is complete, an automated SMS confirmation is sent to the patient and the doctor’s diary is updated in real time.

GPs can also manage Vapour’s new booking solution within their existing EMIS Web system to avoid any increased administrative burden.

Tim Mercer, CEO of Vapour Cloud, said: “With the increasing tendency for patients to use automated services, I’d expect this solution to pick up around 20 per cent of calls to a GP surgery, which would have a huge impact on easing pressure on receptionists and staffing budgets.

“Like many other industries, healthcare is moving towards cloud-based technologies to drive efficiencies and streamline processes for employees, ultimately delivering enhanced services to patients at the same time.

“We’ve seen tremendous advancements in the U.S. in this respect, so it’s crucial that the UK follows suit, especially given the pressures being encountered by the NHS.

“One of our key considerations with this project was the need for a universal experience for all patients, regardless of their connectivity or technological capabilities.

“That’s why we’ve developed a secure system which doesn’t require any prior registration or internet access. This means that any potential barriers which could prevent users from accessing this new service, are automatically removed.

“And, because appointments can be made or amended, 24/7, without the involvement of a receptionist, this should improve the process for patients and clerical staff alike.

“This latest development marks our evolving, established relationship with EMIS Health and our continued commitment to supporting much-needed digital innovation in this sector.”