Electronically referring patients to public outpatient services is about to get a whole lot easier in New South Wales with the expansion of its Engage Outpatients digital referral management solution to Local Health Districts (LHDs).
NSW Health’s Engage Outpatients Electronic Referral Management System (eRMS) and HealthLink’s SmartForm and Secure Messaging Technology will be rolling out to lead sites at LHDs. Following this initial installation, the SmartForm solution will be expanding to many GP referrers in NSW.
HealthLink and NSW Health have signed an agreement to begin a phased roll out of the transformative technology following successful trials in localised districts over the past few years.
HealthLink’s SmartForms and Secure Messaging Technology (used in practice management software such as Best Practice, Medical Director, Genie, Medtech, Zedmed and Shexie) will be utilised to support two-way electronic communications between referring doctors and NSW Health’s outpatient clinics for the initial submission and progress of outpatient referrals through the eRMS system.
As part of the eRMS expansion, NSW Health will develop 40 eReferral forms which will meet new state-wide Referral Criteria across key specialty areas. These will be automatically deployed to GP referrers as their outpatient clinics are onboarded to the eRMS across each new Local Health District (LHD).
There are 11,000 outpatient clinics across NSW. Outpatient and community health services are the largest area of clinical service delivery across NSW Health, providing more than 21 million outpatients services each year, and referrals are an essential and integral process in that service.
Benefits of electronic referrals
Electronic referrals save time, offer superior quality, increased accuracy, and certainty in delivery. They also ensure all necessary clinical and personal information is being safely and securely exchanged between different healthcare settings.
HealthLink chief operating officer Dave Young says HealthLink has a trusted relationship with vendors, GPs and NSW Health and it’s great to see the solution expanding state-wide.
“We support this ambitious move by NSW Health to create a state-wide digital capability for better health outcomes. We’re delighted to be playing an important role in the evolution of referral management across the state.”
There are thousands of NSW Hospital outpatient clinics and general practices that will be able to take advantage of the technology, which uses Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) as the standard to exchange communication between NSW Health and external healthcare providers.
The NSW Health eRMS will centralise all referral data and referral modes (electronic, fax, paper, phone and walk-ins) collected by, and sent to, NSW Health LHDs in a single, accessible store, reducing and removing the reliance on paper-based referral records.
HealthLink’s national manager of health services Jean-Christophe Meunier says the state-wide roll out will have a massively positive impact.
“The result is huge business efficiency gains and time-savings for both external referrers and NSW public hospital outpatient clinics, as well as facilitating a fantastic customer experience for patients who are transferred into NSW public hospitals via the eReferral process.”
HealthLink CEO Mike Weiss says this is another example of HealthLink making health connections easy for a better healthcare experience for health providers, patients, and families.
HealthLink is part of Clanwilliam, a wide network of healthcare enterprises across the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and India, working collectively to create safer, more efficient and better healthcare for everyone.
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