A group of Sydney GPs are the first in NSW to pilot an e-referral system with Sydney Local Health District.
The pilot initially allows 32 GP clinics to replace old style fax referrals with HealthLink’s SmartForms to refer patients to haematology departments at the Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) and Concord Hospital.
“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,” says Jean-Christophe Meunier, eHealth Manager, Hospitals and Health Services at HealthLink.
“This is a very exciting development for not only Sydney Local Health District and its clinicians, but also for Sydney GPs who refer their patients into Sydney’s public hospital system,” says Paul Bennett, Program Manager, HealthPathways, Sydney LHD.
GPs in the pilot group are using a specific e-referral from the HealthLink SmartForms interface that is widely integrated across the popular practice management software (PMS) systems, Best Practice and Medical Director. The integration is totally secure, standardised and professional, offering the pre-population of all relevant patient data from the GP’s PMS, as well as delivering the fastest transfer of care possible.
Practice manager, Penny Mills, of Leichhardt General Practice, has been involved in the pilot from the start, and relishes the prospect of specialists in all hospitals using SmartForms.
She says there are three attributes that make the e-referral platform a winner: ease of use, fast 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 says.
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. This dedicated GP to specialist communication channel for each patient referred allows for quicker referral acknowledgement, acceptance and updating.
Ms Mills says: “The very first patient we referred needed palliative care and was rejected by the specialist we referred to. That was a good result because the doctor could immediately look at an alternative pathway for the patient.”
Mr Meunier agrees: “GPs will be relieved that all of this communication can be channelled back into their existing secure messaging-receiving workflows, and then filed into their patient record.”
“SmartForms are easy to implement, and I believe the pilot will pave the way for broader use by GPs here in Sydney, and into other NSW Local Health Districts,” Mr Meunier says.
Mr Bennett says the pilot offers an opportunity to extend the electronic referral pathway to over 200 GP practices and to other Sydney Local Health 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.”
He says the Sydney Local Health District pilot is an example of innovative collaboration including Strata Health’s PRISM Referral Management System that enables a compliant and synchronous communication with HealthLink’s SmartForms and secure messaging system, and Central and Eastern Sydney PHN, which is providing project resources and technical support through its digital health team.
For more information please contact:
eHealth Manager, Hospitals and Health Services at HealthLink
M 0437 681 688
P 02 8014 7614
About Sydney Local Health District
Sydney Local Health District is made up of hospitals, health services and a range of associated support services. A leading health district, it provides services in the hospital setting and in the community. The district is located in the centre and inner west of Sydney and is made up of the Local Government Areas of the City of Sydney (western part), Inner West Council, Canterbury-Bankstown (Canterbury part), Canada Bay, Burwood and Strathfield. With around 12,000 staff, the district is responsible for the health and wellbeing of more than 700,000 people living within its boundaries, rural and remote parts of NSW and Australia and more than one million people who come into the district each day to work, study and visit.
As the leading Australasian provider for the secure electronic transfer of patient information, HealthLink has been instrumental in eradicating inefficient and unreliable paper-based communication. This has resulted in powerful efficiencies in New Zealand healthcare. In Australia, HealthLink has become the largest provider of clinical messaging services, with more than 10,000 Australian medical organisations connected.
About Strata Health
Strata Health works with healthcare providers through intelligent electronic management of patient transitions into the right care, at the right time. Working with healthcare practitioners, clinicians, IT specialists and administrators, Strata Health pioneered the development of powerful software tools that have revolutionized patient flow, benefiting patients, caregivers and system efficiencies alike.
About Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network
Central and Eastern Sydney PHN’s catchment spans 666.9 km2. The region stretches from Strathfield to Sutherland, as far east as Bondi, and also includes Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island. It’s the second largest of the 31 primary health networks across Australia by population, with almost 1.5 million individuals residing in the region. PHNs aim to improve coordination of care to ensure people receive the right care in the right place at the right time.