Outpatient and community health services are the largest area of clinical service delivery across NSW Health, providing more than 21 million outpatient services each year.
Many referrers, including GPs, and outpatient clinics still rely on manual, paper-based processes including fax and post. Currently referrers and patients are not notified of the status of their referral.
eHealth NSW is partnering with the Ministry of Health and stakeholders from Local Health Districts (LHDs) to deliver a new statewide digital Outpatient Referral Management solution.
Engage Outpatients enables referrals to be sent digitally to outpatient services and notifies both referrers and patients of referral outcomes. It features electronic secure messaging, improving communication between clinicians, referrers, administrative staff and patients.
Engage Outpatients builds on existing infrastructure and streamlines information sharing between referrers and outpatient services to improve the continuity of care for patients. It includes three main components:
- The Service Practitioner Directory an up-to-date digital directory for referrers to identify NSW Health outpatient services, clinics and specialists.
- The Referral Hub a central referral registry which enables reporting and provides a statewide dashboard for staff to view outpatient clinic demand.
- The Electronic Referral Management System which provides outpatient and community services with anytime, anywhere referral management and triaging. The system also sends notifications to the referrer and patient, keeping everyone informed of the referral progress and outcome.
The new digital referral management solution is being trialled in Sydney Local Health District and Northern NSW Local Health District, with plans for other districts to follow.
This program has begun as a pilot at Sydney Local Health district and will soon pilot in Northern NSW Local Health District.
The digital referral management solution will improve experiences for patients, clinicians and referrers engaging with outpatient services once rolled out across NSW.
The Engage Outpatients digital referral management solution will:
- Improve the continuity of care for patients by streamlining the secure sharing of patient information between referrers and outpatient services
- Save staff time on manual paperwork and processing faxes
- Reduce the number of lost or misdirected referrals
- Provide referrers with greater visibility of available hospital services
- Improve the quality of referral information
- Provide digital notifications to referrers and patients on the referral progress and triage outcome
- Improve resource management and outpatient service planning.
Referral data captured by the system will improve health service planning and support more timely access to outpatient services.