Best Practice integrates with MEDrefer online referral service

GP software vendor Best Practice is aiming to demonstrate the integration of online referral service MEDrefer into its clinical software at the General Practice Conference and Exhibition (GPCE) in Melbourne in mid-November.

Best Practice chief commercial officer Craig Hodges said the company was also working very hard to have National Prescription and Dispense Repository (NPDR) functionality available in the next version, along with an integrated Assisted Registration Tool (ART) to allow doctors to register known customers for the PCEHR.

“Aside from MEDrefer and other exciting releases coming up in the next version, NPDR has been a key development aim for us,” Mr Hodges said. “We have our heads down at the moment to make that happen.”

Mr Hodges said the MEDrefer integration would allow users to access the referral service from within BP.

“It will be a seamless transition for communicating from the point when a referral is escalated for a specialist,” he said. “We have tried to make it as user-functional as we can so people won't actually see the gap between the two providers.”

MEDrefer is a web-based platform that allows GPs to search a directory of consultants and allied health providers by their sub-specialties, location, availability and other factors like gender or languages spoken.

The GP can book an appointment for the patient then and there if the patient agrees, or they can generate a referral certificate listing five recommended specialists from which the patient can choose the most appropriate for their schedule and location.

The referral certificate has a code number printed on it, so when the patient contacts the specialist's rooms, the receptionist or practice manager can access the referral online and decide whether to accept it or not.

MEDrefer managing director Brian Sullivan told the Australian Centre for Health Innovation's (CHI) annual conference in Melbourne last week that the idea was to streamline the referral process but also to enable GPs to keep track of whether the referral had been accepted or not, and whether the patient had attended or not.

“The specialist can look at the summary and say yes, we'll accept that referral,” Mr Sullivan said. “When he accepts that referral, the instant that happens a message goes back to the GP that I, one of the five, have accepted the referral and I'm seeing the patient on the eighth of November. The GP is now in the loop, which they have never been before.

“Our system will then go back to the specialist on behalf of the GP and say please confirm that my patient attended. If the patient hasn't attended, please indicate. If they have attended, where is my report? It will continue until the GP gets a response.

“If the patient hasn't attended, we then reverse that referral and then any one of the five can pick it up again.”

MEDrefer includes a dashboard for the GP to see a list of the status of all of his or her referrals, including referrals that have been issued, replied to, rejected and completed.

“This is probably the only system that follows and tracks the patient and the referral,” Mr Sullivan said.

MEDrefer has been developed over a number of years but is now ready to be promoted, he said. It was initially built using Microsoft's .NET framework, but two years ago was rebuilt using the open source web application framework Ruby on Rails.

The service is free to GPs but a fee will be charged per referral to specialists. Mr Sullivan said he expected young consultants looking to build a patient base to take up the service initially, but also expects more established specialists to come on board when they find out how efficient it can be.

The MEDrefer team has built up a directory of over 8000 medical specialists and 12,000 allied health practitioners. The first accepted referral will be offered for free, after which a fee will apply. Medical and allied health practitioners will be able to amend their contact details themselves, and indicate their availability and waiting list.

Mr Sullivan said the MEDrefer team had worked hard with Best Practice to ensure the system was as easy to use as possible for GPs and specialists and integration with the clinical software was essential.

“The integration with the GP software is very important because the doctor doesn't want to be going into different screens,” he said. “It has to be on one.”

Best Practice has also announced that Sonic Healthcare has signed on as the principal sponsor for next year's Bp Sunshine Summit.

The summit is being held from Friday, March 14 to Sunday, March 16, 2014 at the Novotel Twin Waters Resort at Coolum on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. Online registrations will be open in November.

GPCE is being held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from November 15 to 17. Registrations are now open.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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