HealthLink goes national with 'any to any' eReferrals

Auckland-based secure messaging vendor HealthLink is making its CareSelect eReferrals system available to GPs throughout New Zealand for secure 'any to any' referrals, allowing them to search for and select from a comprehensive range of specialists, allied health providers and non-government organisations.

CareSelect is widely used in Auckland, Northland and Wellington to send eReferrals to hospitals, but it has also been trialled for the last 18 months to communicate with non-hospital specialists and allied health professionals.

According to HealthLink, over 180 practices in Auckland and Northland are using CareSelect to send over 1000 eReferrals a month. HealthLink has worked with its First Movers’ Forum, a group of tech savvy GPs who provide direct user feedback on new services, to develop the system.

CareSelect contains a database of specialists, allied health providers and non-government organisations that GPs can easily search and then select a suitable practitioner. The eReferrals are pre-populated with the patient's data extracted from the practice management system (PMS) or electronic medical record (EMR) and the system uses HealthLink's familiar Health Information Standards Organisation (HISO) form interface.

The GP can send the eReferral by secure messaging if the recipient has a HealthLink EDI, with compatible EMRs receiving the eReferrals directly into their system., or it can be printed out and faxed.

While most GPs would refer to certain specialists regularly, CareSelect allows them to do a wider search to find the best available referral option for their patients. It involves a simple key-word search for name, specialty or diagnosis.

Specialists and allied health providers are being offered a free or standard listing that details their core speciality and contact details as well as the ability for GPs to create a HealthLink referral, but there is also a paid option that allows practitioners to list their full bio including a photo, logo, details about their various specialties, interests, qualifications, affiliations and languages spoken.

HealthLink CEO Tom Bowden said the average referral can be created and sent within one minute in more than 60 per cent of cases.

“This makes it very straight forward to use within a standard general practice consultation,” Mr Bowden said. “The technology itself is highly reliable and well understood by users, as it is currently being used for approximately 90 per cent of all GP to hospital referrals in the Auckland, Northland and Wellington regions.”

Mr Bowden said the significance of being able to make 'any to any' eReferrals cannot be underestimated.

“The implications for improving certainty in care for patients is phenomenal, with GPs being able to easily and reliably refer patients to the most suitable provider,” he said.

“The reality is that GPs have a tough job when it comes to referring patients to anyone other than a hospital. With a huge and growing range of providers it is difficult for a GP to stay on top of every service and provider available for their patients.

“CareSelect is a game changer because it matches a GP to the relevant provider for any given patient need.”

HealthLink plans to make further enhancements in future to include the ability for an informal dialogue between referrer and referral recipient, and the ability to track a referral’s current status. Some of this functionality is already available in the Auckland GP-hospital eReferral system and will be fine-tuned prior to implementing in CareSelect.

HealthLink also recently launched a new service allowing GPs to lodge work capacity medical certificates with Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) electronically.

Posted in New Zealand eHealth

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