Open bookings reduce stress

AS IN Australia, patients in Canada may choose to go to an emergency department rather than see their GP. A study in Nova Scotia examined whether the use of hospital services can be reduced by changes to general practice appointment systems.

The study practice reduced the number of booked appointments to approximately 35% of the total. Most patients were therefore able to be seen on the day they rang for an appointment. Three other practices acted as controls by only offering booked appointments.

Patient satisfaction with the booking system improved after the introduction of more open appointments. Satisfaction was significantly greater than in the control practices.

During the study there was a 28% reduction in the number of patients attending emergency departments with minor problems.

Interviews with practice staff showed benefits in the study practice. These included the staff feeling more positive and relaxed.