Published November 4th 2021
After a successful e-Referral rollout, Sydney Local Health District is not looking back.

Sydney Local Health District has continued the roll out of e-Referral to 58 clinics and services, enabling more than 260 local general practices to refer to Sydney Local Health District ambulatory care services using HealthLink SmartForms.

We caught up with Paul Bennett, Program Manager HealthPathways Sydney and e-Referral Project, and Sarah Friend, e-Referral Project Officer, to hear more about the journey.

Why did Sydney Local Health District introduce GP e-Referrals?

The project was established to improve the quality and safety of referral processes, through the introduction of secure electronic referral processes. Following a successful pilot in 2018 and investigating what e-Referral systems were available, Sydney Local Health District determined HealthLink was the optimal platform for general practice referrals to our ambulatory care services. Paul Bennett noted: “The added benefit was that general practitioners were already using HealthLink SmartForms to refer to other hospitals and organisations, so all roads led to Sydney Local Health District working with HealthLink to expand the availability of e-Referral in general practice.”

For Sydney Local Health District, e-Referral aims to play a role in transforming a patient’s transition from primary to secondary care by enabling referrals to be securely sent, reducing the reliance on legacy communication systems including fax.

The introduction of e-Referral is not just about efficiency and quality, but ease of use, avoiding wastage and minimising patient delay to accessing ambulatory care services. General practitioners now receive acknowledgement the referral has been received by the Sydney Local Health District service, which gives them and their patients peace of mind, and reduces time with referrers no longer having to follow up or generate multiple referrals.

How has HealthLink’s SmartForms technology supported GP referrals?

The introduction of e-Referral has supported general practice on a number of fronts. The e-Referral Project Team explained, “as referrals are integrated into general practitioners’ practice software, it makes it easier to connect and autopopulate the referral with patient demographic and clinical information, saving the GP time and ensuring the referral is made to the correct service.”


HealthLink SmartForms support GP referrals by providing a system acknowledgment message noting service receipt of the referral. They also receive messages on whether the referral is accepted or declined. Paul Bennett added: “All e-Referrals align with the locally relevant HealthPathways, which supports GPs with clinical decision support and service information and facilitates the transfer of key diagnostic information, minimising repeat pathology and radiology investigations and time. The synergy between e-Referral and HealthPathways Sydney, enables consistent and standardised information between the two general practice facing platforms. This has been a key focus for Sydney Local Health District e-Referral implementations since the project’s inception.