Cork pilots electronic GP referrals

The Mercy University Hospital is the first hospital in Ireland to have
introduced an electronic referral system for GPs referring patients
for general outpatient hospital appointments. The general referral
form which the GPs can use is suitable for all general hospital
outpatient appointments. The project is part of a HSE national pilot.

In January of this year, a number of Cork based GPs began to refer
electronically into the specialties of cardiology, respiratory and
vascular at the Mercy University Hospital. By the end of July over 250
electronic referrals have been received and it has now been opened up
to all specialties in the Mercy University Hospital and is available
to all GPs in the catchment area.

The project has also recently been extended to Mallow General Hospital
(which will shortly reach 100 referrals) and it is expected that the
remaining five pilot site hospitals (Cork University Hospital, South
Infirmary Victoria University Hospital, Bantry General Hospital, Kerry
General Hospital and Tallaght Hospital) will have electronic referral
available by mid 2014.

The purpose of the national electronic general GP referral pilot
project is to develop an electronic referral pathway for public
outpatient hospital appointments between GPs and seven pilot
hospitals. Healthlink provides a web-based messaging service, which
allows the secure transmission of the electronic referral from a GP to
the hospital and the GP receives an acknowledgement of receipt of the
referral. Considerable work is underway at pilot site hospitals to
centralise and standardise the management of all out-patient
department referrals. This ensures that each electronic general
referral results in an electronic response message to the GP within
seven days detailing if the patient has been listed for an urgent or a
routine appointment, the appointment date if available, or if the
appointment is not yet made and details of the waiting list the
patient has been placed on.

The system is designed and being developed in such a way that it can
be rolled out nationally to all GPs and acute hospitals. When
operational, all outpatient referrals will be managed using a
standardised approach, which will improve the overall patient
experience by improving access to outpatient appointments, reducing
duplication and delays and providing a much more efficient system. The
system also provides a faster and easier access to a consultant
opinion as electronic referrals are transmitted to the hospital
immediately.

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