The journey of a patient from referral to treatment in hospital through to discharge can generate hundreds of pieces of paper. There have been several documented instances of compromised patient safety from loss of hard copy referrals, breakdown in communication or incomplete information.

As a GP you currently do not receive information about whether your referral has been received or where it is in the process. The current system relies on you or your patient to follow up on their referral, something which doesn’t always happen and can lead to the patient’s condition deteriorating without treatment.

An electronic referral system which provides online access to accurate information when you need it is the answer to these issues.

"What I love about eReferrals, is that when I write a referral to a service that I hardly ever use, the template guides me easily through the requirements  and I dont have to check that I have included everything" Harley Aish GP.

Basically, the referral process for GPs will be much more efficient.

The project has been separated into three phases.

Phase One was rolled out in 2012-13 to all GPs in the Auckland area. Referrals can now be completed and sent electronically to the Central Referral Office of the relevant hospital.

In most cases the eReferrals system selects the relevant hospital for the patient based on their address in the GP Patient Management System.

Selected Information on the form is pre-populated with information from the Patient Management System including any medications/warnings, medical history, patient demographics.

eReferrals generates an automatic response to GPs when their electronic forms are submitted, giving them confidence that their referral has been received.

Another difference with the electronic system is that the Central Referral Offices are now able to forward referrals to other DHBs.

There is one minor change for hospital clinicians in that they are able to view a referral within their clinical desktop (Concerto) system.

Phase 1 - Completed

The process that is followed at the hospital end of the referral process will generally remain the same in the first phase. Staff in the Central Referral Offices will print the referral forms and manage them in the same way.

Referrals currently not handled by the Central Referral Offices will also remain the same. There are plans to introduce primary referrals that are outside of the CRO in the first release of Phase Two. These will include Mental Health, Sexual Health, Allied Health, Adult Rehabilitation & Health of Older People services, Child and Youth and others.

Phase 2 - Completed

Phase 2 will bring greater change at the hospital end with clinicians being able to triage referrals electronically. GPs will also be able to track the referral through the process.

Phase One - Completed

Phase 2.1-2.2: - Completed

High level business requirements have been identified and presented to the vendor. These requirements are based upon workshops and interviews with administrative and clincial staff, undertaken during Phase One and Two requirements gathering. We have now moved into the Design and Specification phase.

The business requirments encompass recommendations and lessons learnt form a number of existing referral systems from DHBs including Hutt Vallery DHB, Auckland DHB and Waitemata DHB. They are aligned with national and regional strategies, plans and standards.

Phase 2.3-2.4 - In progress

Web-eReferrals (for NGOs/other healthcare providers) are due to Go Live on 15/09/16