Appointment booking software appears similar, as in they make appointments, or at least they appear all the same from the visual display.  Some use the “wow” factor to impress clients with Microsoft style UI’s or User Interfaces , some are Web based and use cool graphics to impress.  For years I questioned their true value because what looks pretty on the outside may lose its gloss when exposed to functionality and performance.

Software companies, especially those that are web based are all coded off shore, primarily in Asian developing countries and there is always doubt in my mind about potential exposure to fraudsters at both the application layer and at the web layer.  If you don’t believe me then go and ask your favorite security software vendors like Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky and Trend Micro.

In reality Web based appointment management software have several areas that are problematic.  So let me try to describe these for you.

Appearance:

The appointment calendar is 1 dimensional.  Its displays information similar to a Microsoft Outlook Calendar and the time format is fixed. So if you are providing appointments at 15 minute intervals, then they will be displayed somewhere in the hour. These can be difficult to find in a busy book.  Or if you are a multi-disciplined practice with provider’s different intervals for appointments, then it becomes even worse.  People want inexpensive solutions, and that’s exactly what they get.  They Pure Matrix team have invested time in listening to what their client needs, and that is basically a secure and functional system and that it’s not subjected to the Internet.  We always ask out customer why they refuse to use the Internet and they all have the same beliefs that once the Internet is switched on at work, then staff can get carried away using it and downloading content that they shouldn’t.

Performance:

Web based solution lack performance and there are many reasons. Amongst some of them are;

  • Web based applications use a common database and a common program on a common server in a common location.  Performance can be affected by how many users access the common database at any one time.  The delay will increase over time.  Applications like Pure Matrix are local. They are quick and nimble and response times never let you down.
  • Leaving your clients data exposed in an area (the Web) that you cannot control. You know that’s its stored somewhere, but you don’t know exactly where or how exposed it is. If I was a client worried about my personal information being at risk on the internet, then I would change provider.
  • Internet connections are not bullet proof.  When they go down, then so does your application.  And the strange thing is that it may not be your end at all!  So what are you prepared to lose?  I have read blogs from other vendors where they state that its OK for downtime every now and then, or is this a way to hide the real truth?
  • Who do you call? Is it the Web Application, the Internet provider, The PC manufacturer?  Perhaps you research the problem on the web – But “Hang On”, the web is down.
  • Stability control. Once it breaks or functionality fails, then it panic stations.

I see this pain all the time but eventually clinics start to realize that a local product with database control outweighs the cost of web based products.

Functionality:

Let’s explore some of the functionality issues with Web Based applications

  • Web Applications by nature cannot Auto Refresh or autosync.  They need to be refreshed manually or via script.  This would be an issue for busy or multi-disciplined clinics.
  • As previously mentioned, the appointment book is of single dimension.  Not functional.
  • Limited Back end power.  Reports, End of day, Transactional processing, clinical notes and more.
  • Security Access Control at granular levels – Why give everyone access to you entire system? Control who gets to do what and where.
  • Your Database is local.  What if a web provider goes out of business, so then where is your data, or more importantly your customers personal information ?

I think Web Applications have a place in our society, especially in secure environments, like transactional banking, where the data is held in secure data center’s controlled by millions of dollars of investment in security tools, or online application forms  or search, but none of these involve your business holding your clients data.

So please trust your data and don’t risk your clients personal records. Keep them safe and local.