The CareConnect eReferrals initiative is in the throes of revolutionising the primary-secondary care interface. As of today it is installed on 185 Auckland general practices (that’s over half of Auckland’s general practices) and we are currently installing at the rate of five practices a day. Five thousand CareConnect eReferrals have now been sent and that number is climbing sharply.
Using CareConnect eReferrals, referrers can send 24 different customised referral forms to 36 services across three district health boards: Auckland, Waitemata and Counties Manukau. The CareConnect system automatically detects which DHB the patient should go to, based on the patient’s home address (NHI) and where that particular service is available. When fully deployed and integrated with the DHBs’ patient management systems, the CareConnect solution will be without doubt the most advanced, standards-based eReferral system in the world.
In this video, Dr Kim Bannister, GP at Mairangi Medical Centre and Primary Care Advisor, says, “It’s great to to put a referral through and you get the acknowledgement back within half a minute that the referral’s been received and acknowledged.”
Dr Karl Cole, GP and Clinical Director for Information at Procare, believes one of the most exciting, disruptive things eReferrals will allow GPs to do is to get a real time, virtual consult without the patient having to turn up to outpatients again. “We have this new technology that allows us to have more conversations around our patients and keep the GPs informing specialists and keeping the feedback loop that much faster.”
Dr Jo Blakey, GP at Mairangi Medical Centre, says that the forms save her time by prompting her for necessary attachments up front thereby minimising the double handling involved in having referrals rejected.
“If you have eReferral criteria that are stringent and well defined then there’s actually a potential for a reduction in referrals by as much as 10%”, says Dr Jeff Garrett, Clinical Director of Medicine at Middlemore Hospital. If this were to be applied across the three district health boards in metro Auckland the expectation is that as many as 35,000 first clinic appointments per annum could be reduced, freeing up the valuable time of clinicians to redirect their energies towards other areas of care.
Dr Garrett summarises, “I see the eReferrals project as a way of driving improvement not only in terms of the quality of the referrals and our ability to assess the referrals better and therefore assign them more accurately to a prioritisation criteria but this gives us a really really good opportunity to improve performance across the whole of the outpatient clinic arena.”
This has also been one of the most demanding projects HealthLink has ever been involved in and we are immensely proud of the result that is emerging. Years of service development and prototyping, piloting and developing systems has yielded the result we are now seeing in Auckland. We’d like to pay tribute to our customer the Auckland District Health Board eReferrals steering group and healthAlliance and in particular project manager Grant Ramsay and committee chair Ngaire Buchanan who, along with their teams, have worked very closely with us. We’d also like to thank the teams at Hutt Valley (the true eReferrals pioneers), Northland and Wairarapa DHBs, each of whom has worked closely with us to develop and finetune the eReferrals technology that CareConnect is using today.
I would also like to thank our partners Medtech and MyPractice who have worked closely with us to implement the HISO 10014.2 Online Forms Interface standard and I’d like to salute HISO (The NZ Health Information Standards Organisation) for its efforts to bring this very advanced and useful standard to fruition. This same standard is now being used for a growing range of applications, including electronic pathology ordering and various online forms projects and it is rapidly becoming a really important piece of sector infrastructure. Great collaboration and a great result, HISO.