The smart appointment scheduling system will eventually be used by an entire group of medical institutions to reduce patient waiting times, boost operational efficiency.

The schedules of hospital patients are continually changing, and so are that of medical personnel. Juggling the complex daily changes in appointments, clinical resource availability, work schedules, arrival times, waiting times, resource availability, urgent postponements and last-minute cancellations of medical appointments is a complex challenge faced by all medical institutions.

One eye center in Singapore is taking the bull by the horns in adopting AI, machine learning and advanced analytics to reduce patient waiting times and also boost operational efficiency in its annual workload of 360,000 patient visits. The Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) is now trialing an Appointment Scheduling Optimizer (ASO) to transform clinic operations, reduce patient waiting times and allocate manpower and resources more efficiently.  

Expected to be rolled out in the fourth quarter of this year, the ASO is planned for further scaling and deployment across all institutions in the SingHealth group.

Alleviating pain points with DX

Said the center’s COO, Ms Charity Wai: “Currently, appointment scheduling for all patient visits, including those requiring initial consultations and the necessary same-day eye services and investigations, is a time and labor-intensive process handled by appointment staff. To address the growing volume of appointment requests and limited visibility over demand at multiple service stations resulting in bottlenecks and long clinic waiting times, SNEC has collaborated with NCS to leverage the Appointment Scheduling Optimizer to resolve the various pain points.”

Under the digitalization strategy, SNEC’s data sets will be processed with predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms to meet exact patient and operational requirements for automatic supply-demand matching and appointment schedule optimization. The aim is to reach an optimal daily schedule to matching confirmed patient appointments with all available clinical resources.

NCS’s VP of Healthcare & Transport Client Service Unit, Howie Sim, said: “(As) the first-of-its-kind in Singapore, the Appointment Scheduling Optimizer marks the first of many use cases in healthcare, such as the improved allocation of hospital beds, operating theaters, and even optimizing valuable nurse-to-patient staffing for better care.”