A timely business reminder, a software solution to manage your appointments
START-UP NATION: DiaryMonitor:DiaryMonitor, initially designed for medical practitioners, has been adopted by customers as diverse as tattoo artists and piano tuners
AFTER MISSING several medical appointments, Limerick businesswoman Martina Skelly saw a gap in the market for an appointment reminder solution. Along with her brother Michael Skelly, she created booking, scheduling and reminder software for medical practitioners including GPs, dentists and physiotherapists.
“I’d mix up dates quote a lot. I missed several appointments and they were appointments I had to wait quite a long time for. People were writing things down manually on paper and I was losing the appointment cards/slips of paper.
“My brother worked as a developer and had a lot of experience in SMS integration, so I brought him in as it was a long time since I had done programming myself.”
The software they designed helps SMEs manage their appointments. It has an online calendar that can sync with other calendars such as Google or Outlook.
“It also sends automated reminders via text and e-mail which cuts down the number of no-shows at appointments. Often practitioners don’t know who will show up, so we invite the recipient to confirm via a yes/no text. This feeds back into the main database, so they know what appointments slots are free,” she says.
The company was launched in January of this year after nearly two years of product development and beta testing. Some 217 companies globally are currently using the software, mainly in the US and the UK.
“When we set up initially, we thought it would be mainly private medical practitioners such as doctors, dentists and physiotherapists using our product. We were surprised by the other people that wanted it. We have piano tuners, boiler service repairmen, hair salons etc, all using the product.
“We have a radio station in Chicago using our product to remind interviewees of the time they are to turn up. We also have golf instructors, tattoo artists, hair-braiding salons, chiropractors, photographers, homoeopathists and driving instructors.”
The two decided not to look for investment initially, as they didn’t want to give away a large portion of their business, Skelly says.
As well as reminding customers of their appointments, the software also allows members of the public to book appointments online.
“I realised I could book flights from the USA to Ireland online, I could book a hotel room in Australia. Yet if I wanted to book an appointment with my dentist in Limerick, I had to pick up the phone and ring him.”
Research has shown that 60 per cent of online appointments are booked after 5pm, according to Skelly. The DiaryMonitor system allows businesses to reduce waiting lists further by rebooking vacant slots.
“We encourage SMEs using the product to put their appointment calendar online so members of the public can see what appointments are available and book them.
“More than 20,000 appointments have been booked using our software and the feedback has been excellent so far. We haven’t had one paying customer leave us or cancel an account.”
Skelly says research by the company showed a 10-15 per cent increase in the number of appointments made, a 40 per cent decrease in the number of no-shows, and a 60 per cent reduction in the amount of administration time required by DiaryMonitor’s users.
Another advantage of the product is its ability to show a patient’s or client’s reliability.
“You can easily look at a client’s history and see if they have a history of not showing up or cancelling appointments.”
The two are currently meeting with venture capitalists and angel investors in a bid to source funding to expand their business.
“The next logical step for us will be to take payments online. People are also looking for an iPhone app and an android app, so we want to develop them.”
The business is also changing its name in the US to Yellow Schedule after research by the company showed Americans tended to associate diary with a personal journal.
“The US is our main target market as more than 25 million appointments are made every single day, with the vast majority made over the phone and recorded on paper,” says Skelly.
Research has shown that 60 per cent of online appointments are booked after 5pm