A Scottish health authority has hugely reduced waiting times for vulnerable young patients with mental health problems by introducing an electronic booking system.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has cut the waiting time for a first appointment from one year to an average of just six weeks using data analysis and electronic appointment booking system for child and adolescent mental health service.

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With 120 clinicians care for 4,800 patients in the service and data analysis via a new EMIS Web clinical system has enabled IT experts to check demand and plan capacity 13 weeks in advance.

The system’s electronic appointment book can be scanned instantly for spare slots, and quickly filled, and the same number of clinicians are now offering 1,000 more appointments a month than in 2014, when the health board used paper records.

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Scott Wilson, senior information analyst, said: "We now have a wealth of information at our fingertips that has enabled us to plan ahead and use our clinicians’ time more effectively.

"We (previously) had paper diaries for individual clinicians, with no formal capacity planning.

"Now we can gather data in minutes, and appointment booking is much quicker.

"If someone phones up to change an appointment it is much easier to do that, and offer their slot to another patient.

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"It means patients are being seen more quickly, and clinicians are offering better care to more young people.

"Informatics staff who used to spend their time counting are now analysing and supporting planning."

The health board is using data analysis patterns of non-attendance for local populations to see how they can work with families to reduce missed appointments.

The health service said data analysis has also enabled them to produce performance data for service managers within minutes, rather than it taking half a day via manual searches.