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Northland DHB Introduces Intra-hospital E-referrals

Referrals between hospital departments in Northland DHB can now be made electronically, saving precious time and improving patient safety.

GPs have been e-referring into hospitals in the region since 2013 but referrals between hospital departments were paper-based until the beginning of this year.

In a groundbreaking move, Northland DHB has partnered with Clanwilliam Health (formerly HealthLink) to build an integration into the hospital platform to enable e-referrals to be sent between hospital departments and beyond.

E-referrals can now also be made from hospital departments to a wide range of community providers, private specialists and, in the near future, to Auckland-based tertiary services. Some community and government organisations can also e-refer into the hospitals.

Northland DHB digital projects clinical director Dr Alan Davis says eliminating paper referrals improves efficiency and patient safety.

“Patient safety is key. Paper referrals are high risk because they can go missing, have incomplete information or poor handwriting, which can be hugely problematic and time-consuming for everyone involved,” Dr Davis says.

“It’s about building a patient-centred health ecosystem using patient-centred digital referral networks.”

Anyone to anyone e-referrals

Dr Davis says the ultimate goal is an e-referral platform in which anyone can refer to anyone within the wider health ecosystem.

“We are now moving towards that goal where anyone can refer to anyone using a single integrated platform, which would be a New Zealand first.”

Clanwilliam Health director of customer experience Paul Graham says referrals come into hospitals from GPs electronically, so the next logical step was to make referrals between hospital departments and beyond electronic as well.

“We are leveraging existing investment in HealthLink SmartForms to improve patient outcomes and help drive paper out of hospitals,” he says.

E-referrals can also be sent to hospitals in other DHBs, for example, from Whangarei Hospital in Northland DHB to Middlemore Hospital in Counties Manukau DHB.

“Again, this saves time and hassle and ensures the referrals are arriving at the intended destination with all the complete information.”

Background information:

HealthLink: HealthLink, which is part of Clanwilliam Health, is a market-leading health system integrator in New Zealand and Australia. Nearly all secure clinical communications used in New Zealand are shared through HealthLink and it’s the largest provider of secure clinical messaging services in Australia.

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