Midland Health Network and other central north island health organisations are today celebrating a major milestone in electronic referrals.
More than half a million electronic referrals (eReferrals) have been sent between midland general practices, community specialists, and DHB hospitals in the midland region.
The milestone comes after Midlands Health Network worked with a group of health professionals from primary and secondary care and the Best Practice Advocacy Centre (BPAC) to develop and install an e-referral system back in June 2010.
Midlands Health Network CEO John Macaskill-Smith says the BPAC eReferral system has made it safer for patients and quicker and easier for health professionals to refer patients that need additional care.
“The tool allows for the electronic transfer of information between primary, community and secondary health care providers, giving real-time updates to all involved on how the eReferral is being managed. By making this administrative task easier, GP have more time to spend with patients,” says John.
eReferrals are connected to the general practice patient management system to ensure all relevant information can be automatically populated. This ensures the hospital specialists have all the required information in a standard and appropriate format.
“Almost all eReferrals now contain the right information which may have been previously missing. The 500,000 achievement is evidence that this is a system the GPs see value in and enjoy using,” he adds. Waikato DHB consultant rheumatologist Douglas White receives eReferrals and says they have streamlined the way his team works. “eReferrals are made based on certain criteria and prioritised accordingly. They now come into an electronic triage system which is being trialled by our department. This has cut down the average triage time from five days to one and gives clearer pathway details to the referrer,” says Douglas.
eReferrals are also being received by emergency departments at Waikato, Tauranga, Whakatane, Gisborne and Thames hospitals. Clinical nurse manager David James at Thames Hospital emergency department says the hospital has had great success from the tool.
“Thames practices are rural and patients have to drive longer distances to get to the emergency department. With the help of eReferrals, we can review the notes and prepare patient charts before they arrive, thus saving time and creating a smoother process.
A report of all expected patients in the Coromandel region is shared during each shift,” says David. 183 general practices and other primary care providers across five midland DHBs can refer to over 180 service providers, with more providers coming on board weekly.
Over 19,000 eReferrals are made each month, and this number is continuously increasing. The initiative claimed a top prize for collaboration at Waikato DHB’s Best of Health Awards in June 2012.
“Midlands Health Network and BPAC continue to work with the DHBs to enhance the eReferral tool and are now looking at intergrating clinical pathways into the referral platform to further fast-track patient access to specialist diagnostics and care,” adds John.
Gurdeep Singh Judge
Midlands Health Network
Ph: 07 858 5958