Paper route dropped in favour of eReferrals

There was welcome news in the primary care sector this week with a new trial being launched in Victoria to use secure messaging technology to inform GPs if patients at medium risk of hospitalisation for COVID-19 have tested positive. The trial is using existing secure messaging technology and vendor directories for patients receiving in-home monitoring from programs like hospital in the home or HARP, and also taps into the Victorian COVID Positive pathways program.

Hopefully, the trial will go some way to solving problems for GPs in actually knowing which of their patients are positive and may need extra support. It doesn’t really solve a problem that former AMA president Mukesh Haikerwal has raised about immediately alerting GPs to ensure at-risk patients receive treatment straight away, but it’s a start at least.

There was also news on the electronic referrals front, with eHealth NSW leading a statewide trial of HealthLink’s Smart Forms technology and referral management solution to improve the efficiency of referrals into public hospitals and give more information back to GPs about the outcome. Queensland is half-way through a similar exercise with smart referrals, using technology from New Zealand’s BPAC Informatics' SeNT solution and a referral service directory (RSD) based on NextGate's provider registry, delivered by Alcidion.

Victoria also has a number of these projects on the go, and both South Australia and Tasmania are also rolling out statewide solutions, both using HealthLink, and in the case of Tasmania, a referral management solution built by local firm Healthcare Software.

This sort of solution has been used in New Zealand for quite a number of years now. The South Island has used a solution for eReferrals built by Orion Health called the Electronic Request Management System (ERMS) for over a decade. The Auckland region went entirely electronic five years ago, and six other DHBs are also on the market for a combined eReferral and scheduling solution.

Also in the news this week was more on remote monitoring. Telstra Health is rolling out its virtual care technology to a couple of at-home care programs in Adelaide for older people, and Propell Health has won a contract with Perth’s East Metropolitan Health Service (EMHS) to provide wearable technology for patients awaiting clinical assessment in emergency departments.

All of these are good examples of existing technology finally being harnessed for patient care. It has taken a while, but we’re getting there.

Pulse+IT is looking forward to finally getting together with the industry after two years of virtual conferencing when we head off to Melbourne in a fortnight for the Australasian Institute of Digital Health’s Digital Health Institute Summit in late February. We’ll be out in force so if you’re heading there, look us up. No matter how good video conferencing is, we’re finding ourselves starved of in-person human interaction.

That brings us to our poll question for the week.

Will GPs embrace eReferral technology?

Vote here or leave your comments below.

Last week we asked: Will remote monitoring technology finally become embedded in routine healthcare? Most said yes: 85 per cent to 15 per cent. We also asked for your views on what will be the main driver of this: money, or efficiency. Here’s what you said.


+1 # Kate McDonald 2022-02-11 15:16
Will GPs embrace eReferral technology? The vast majority said yes – 90 per cent to 10 per cent.

We also asked why you thought GPs wouldn’t embrace the technology.

- They are very slow to adapt to anything and the cost of SMS to their practice.

- Perhaps over time but GP work practices are slow to change and eReferal is not appropriate in every case.

- If the forms load faster than Healthlink’s smartforms currently do AND all hospitals use the same systems.

- Yes they will, and most should, because this technology is free for GPs to utilise. More often than not if they don't embrace eReferral it's because they are not aware or simply forget to use it. Practice Managers, and Principal GPs, have a big part to play in engaging their practices on this journey for Clinical eReferrals and Diagnostic eOrdering.

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