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GPs swapping pens for keyboards

GPs swapping pens for keyboards

GPs across the country are swapping pens for keyboards and are now referring patients for specialist care online – reducing how long their patients wait for an appointment.

When a patient needs to be referred to a hospital specialist for further assessment or treatment, GPs can now complete an electronic referral form, send it at the touch of a button and receive an immediate notification that it has been received.

Health Minister Tony Ryall says last year general practices sent nearly half a million patient referrals electronically to public hospitals.

“Only a few years ago, referring a patient for specialist care was a paper based process with most GPs faxing a handwritten note to the hospital.

“Despite best intentions, pieces of paper would sometimes get lost and the handwritten notes weren’t always legible or complete which could result in a patient’s appointment being delayed.

“The electronic system almost eliminates the chance of a referral getting lost or being unreadable. The system also has sections, such as current medications, which must be completed before the form can be sent. This means hospital specialists are receiving better quality information and are less likely to have to request further information from the referring GP – delaying the patient’s appointment.

“This is great for patients – they are getting the specialist care they need faster,” says Mr Ryall.

The eReferral system was funded by this government and is being used by sixteen district health boards. The four remaining district health boards, MidCentral, Nelson Marlborough, Southern and Whanganui, are introducing the system this year.

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