SLHD first in state to pilot new electronic referral system.
Sydney Local Health District is the first in the state to pilot a new e-referral system for general practitioners.
The pilot will allow 32 GP clinics to replace old-style fax referrals with HealthLink’s SmartForms to refer patients to haematology departments at Royal Prince Alfred and Concord hospitals.
“This is a very exciting development, for not only Sydney Local Health District and its clinicians, but also for GPs who refer their patients into Sydney’s public hospital system,” Paul Bennett, manager of the District’s HealthPathways program, said.
The practices are using a specific e-referral from the HealthLink SmartForms interface that is secure, standardised and professional, offering the pre-population of all relevant patient data from the GP’s practice management software, as well as delivering the fastest transfer of care possible.
“Hospital staff can receive the referrals as soon as the GPs send them and in turn can provide GPs with secure electronic status update notifications, which are received into a GP clinic’s inbox,” Mr Bennett said.
The Central and Eastern Sydney PHN is providing project resources during the pilot and technical support through its digital health team.
HealthLink’s Jean-Christophe Meunier said the pilot was easy to implement and could pave the way for broader use by other NSW local health districts.
“The e-referral is synchronously delivered into the public health system, meaning no more no lost referrals, no delays due to postage or illegibility or mishandling of the referral in transit. This makes it safer and faster for the patient,” Mr Meunier said.
An additional mandatory part of the referral pathway makes it possible for the hospitals to send secure electronic status updates back to GPs to advise that the referral has been either accepted or denied.
“GPs will be relieved that all of this communication can be channelled back into their existing secure messaging-receiving workflows,” he said.
Mr Bennett said the pilot offered an opportunity to extend the electronic referral pathway to more than 200 GP practices and to other District outpatient clinics.
“We trust this will be the start of a successful patient transfer process across the district using the professional approach and sheer scale of HealthLink, Australia’s largest Health IT network provider.”
That’s also the dream of Penny Mills, the practice manager at Leichhardt General Practice.
Involved in the pilot from the start, Ms Mills relishes the prospect of specialists in all hospitals using e-referrals due to their ease of use, real-time processing, and added security, all of which combines to improve the quality of patient care.
“It’s also far less messy than using faxes,” she said.