Published November 3rd 2021

Background: In 2016, the journey to e-Referrals began with the National Digital Health Strategy. Now, five years later, Victoria has successfully rolled out e-Referrals statewide. We caught up with some of the PHNs who have been behind the rollout to reflect on the journey that has brought them to this successful outcome.


Sarah O’Leary
Director of Integrated Care North Western Melbourne PHN



When and why did North Western Melbourne PHN introduce GP e-Referrals?


North Western Melbourne PHN’s (NWMPHN) role has been supporting the change management that was required to implement e-Referrals. This included identifying the change management that was needed to support general practice teams to manage e-Referrals within their workflows.

We advocate on behalf of general practice to the hospitals and health services to ensure they consider the role of general practice in their e-Referral process. For example, Northern Health, who works with HealthLink, planned to transition to an e-Referral process. NWMPHN supported communication and education sessions with GPs in our region who were affected by this change.

For e-Referral to work it requires systems in place at both the hospital and GP end. Most GPs now have compliant software and we are seeing more and more hospitals with electronic systems, so we are hopeful that it will be more common in our region  in the future.


How has HealthLink’s SmartForms technology supported GP e-Referral?


E-Referral is the transfer of information. For the process to really work it needs agreement from hospitals, specialists and GPs on what information is required for a referral to be accepted. HealthLink SmartForms have specialist referral criteria integrated into the form so the GP doesn’t need to leave the form to check the criteria.


How have GPs across Melbourne and your referrer catchment adopted this solution?


Anecdotally we can say when the hospitals moved to e-Referrals, it went well.


What is the great benefit GPs have received by using the new eReferrals ?


The integration of the process to align with the GP’s workflow. HealthLink has connected the Specialist Referral Criteria into the workflow so the GP doesn’t have to go outside the referral form to check what is needed for the referral and then go back in. It’s all integrated.


Based on your current experience, would you ever go back to life before GP eReferrals?

As a health system, no.



To start using GP e-Referrals, check out our HealthLink SmartForm user guides for:

  • Best Practice
  • Genie Solutions
  • Medical Director 3.16 and Above