June 2011

First look at Auckland region eReferrals system

This month the eReferrals project team viewed a working version of the eReferrals system from within the PMS. Getting to see the system in its final format and functioning is a huge achievement and the fruits of many months labour!

Click here [PDF, 2.7 MB] to see screenshots of the eReferrals system.

New General Manager Information Services up with the play with regional referrals solution

Johan Vendrig, newly appointed General Manager of Information Services for healthAlliance has not had much time in the hot seat — however he is already completely up to speed with the regional eReferrals project.

Johan has been on the Steering Committee for the project since kick-off and is enthusiastic about the benefits eReferrals will provide to the Auckland region. IT services delivered by healthAlliance will drive greater standards of care across the region's DHBs and eReferrals is a key project contributing to these improved standards.

“This regional project is an important one to the entire health sector and is completely aligned with the Minister’s vision for better, sooner and more convenient care for New Zealanders and the National Health IT Plan,” says Johan.

The system is leading the way on the how hospital and primary care systems integrate through the implementation of a HISO interoperability standard. This new standard enables information to be easily extracted from GP systems and written back.

The three Auckland DHBs have been working with Orion Health and healthLink to implement electronic referrals to improve the transfer of referrals from GPs to secondary health services in the Metro Auckland region.

“It is one of the first projects where the Metro Auckland DHB’s and primary care have collaborated to design and develop a regional system. The system builds on experience gained in earlier eReferrals projects in Northland and Hutt Valley. Although Northland will continue to use their current eReferrals solution during phase 1, they will join new regional system once phase 2 of the project is on-line in 2012”

The forms’ design balances information necessary for triage and time efficiency for GPs. Where possible, this information is pre-populated from information stored in the GP Patient Management System.

eReferrals will reduce duplication and minimise errors which occur through incomplete information or lost referrals. GPs will be able to spend less time on paperwork and more time with patients.

Some of the most common problems with paper based referrals occur as a result of incomplete or inconsistent information, lost or illegible referrals or referrals sent to the wrong place. It is these issues which the new General Manager is confident will be addressed. “eReferrals will provide an enormous opportunity to streamline the patient journey.”

Interest in eReferrals

Grant Ramsay, Regional Project Manager and Chris Dawson, Senior BA for the project presented to the Orion Health New Zealand Conference on 11 May. The questions and discussion that followed indicates there is wide interest from other DHBs and the sector in general in the eReferrals project. Of particular interest were aspects including integration with secondary triage processes and major administration systems.

Support models drafted

As the project moves closer to going live, the project team is preparing the documentation that will advise and guide how the system, GPs and hospital (administrative and clinical) users will be supported. Support arrangements will cover the ‘how to’ aspects of managing and supporting the system after go live. This information will be finalised in coming weeks and included within training manuals to be made available to PHO trainers and also placed on this website.

eReferrals in the news

eReferrals was covered in the latest edition of NZ Doctor magazine. The article noted that the delays to the project are due to configurations required to enable the system to comply with the new Health Information Standard Organisation (HISO) standard. This new standard describes how practice management systems export information to other systems in the eReferral process.

While the work required to ensure the system is HISO compliant has delayed the project, it will be extremely beneficial in the long run, providing added efficiencies to healthcare providers.

CEO of eReferrals vendor Healthlink commented that while the Auckland project is using the same technology piloted at Hutt Valley and Northland DHBs, it is slightly more sophisticated. “The Auckland technology can identify where the referral form was sent from by a geographical code,” he says.

A second article outlined the guidelines for evaluating the efficiencies of eReferrals. Evaluations of the Hutt Valley and Northland systems have been or are near completion and the Canterbury evaluation is about to commence. The Auckland project will be the final system to be evaluated and will benefit from the findings from the other assessments. NIHI's evaluations are designed to provide feedback to service providers and to assist with implementation of other eReferral systems.

The findings of the Hutt Valley implementation can be viewed at www.hive.org.nz (external link)

eReferrals Progress Report

The Phase I eReferrals solution is currently in testing phase with a pilot planned for July/August.

For Phase II requirements have been developed and datasets collected for hospital services. The project team has presented to a variety of hospital services and clinical groups during this stage. A business case is now being created based on the requirements and feedback received. The final document will be presented to the Auckland District Health Boards for their consideration in the last quarter of this year.