September 2010

eReferrals project changing gear.

It has been a while since we last communicated but the eReferrals project team is still hard at work!

The eReferrals project was officially launched last year —with the team collating standard referral datasets incorporating the requirements of 25 clinical services across six hospitals and three DHBs, working with potential vendors to form a contract and creating a comprehensive business case which was approved by the Ministry of Health.

Thanks to all those that had input into the creation of the form templates —this exercise will help ensure the right information is captured at the GP practice and sent on to hospitals.

Automating the transfer of care between general practices and their local hospital provides an enormous opportunity to streamline the patient journey. The current paper referral process is under significant strain. 

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. 

One of three DHB sponsors of the project, Ngaire Buchanan GM of Operations at ADHB is positive about the difference that eReferrals will make in this area.

“The benefits that are of greatest importance to me are the reduction of risk of patients falling through a gap due to paper referrals being lost,” she says.

The Auckland Region eReferrals project will enable GPs to process referrals seamlessly to clinicians meaning less time can be spent on paperwork and more time with patients. Northland DHB witnessed these benefits after their implementation of eReferrals —80% of referrals are now made in office hours.

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 recently published National Health IT Plan.

A contract has been signed with vendors Orion Health andHealthlink as the providers of the eReferrals solution. They are equally passionate about making this project a success. We see both organisations as a critical part of the project team and not simply suppliers of a product or service.

"I am encouraged to see the Auckland Region DHBs move towards the centralisation of a regional electronic solution, which is a key part of the journey towards implementing a national shared patient record and transforming the way patients are cared for in this country." Ian McCrae, CEO, Orion Health.

HealthLink is also delighted to be working in partnership with the Auckland region’s DHBs and with Orion Health. “We believe this will be the world’s first large-scale, standards-based fully electronic referrals system,” says Tom Bowden, CEO Healthlink.

Using the new eReferrals solution, doctors will be able to quickly and easily refer patients, sending a referral directly from their EMR (electronic medical record system) directly into the appropriate hospital. They will then automatically receive notifications and status updates. Early pilots of this technology in other regions of New Zealand have shown significant improvements in patient management and have enabled efficiencies at every stage of the process.

Next Steps— coming to a practice near you!

Now that the contract has been finalised, phase one of the project can commence. Phase one aims to deliver referral forms which can be transferred electronically from primary care to elective services at the six hospitals in the Auckland region.

We will be in contact with PHOs and GPs shortly to provide more information on how eReferrals will work and detail on how the solution will be rolled out including a training program. Rollout is planned to start from March next year with 60 practices going live each month.

Working together for the benefit of the Auckland region.

From the very start, the project team has comprised members from all three DHBs in the Auckland region. 

Referral forms are being developed with input from a clinical panel comprising GP liaisons and clinicians from each DHB:

  Auckland DHB Waitemata DHB Counties Manukau DHB
Hospital Clinicians Susan Stott Tony Scott Jeffrey Garrett
GP Liaisons Jim Kriechbaum Kim Bannister Harley Aish

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