Canterbury Health System clocks up one million electronic referrals

Monday February 20, 2017

​Electronic referrals by Canterbury clinicians through the South Island's Electronic Request Management System (ERMS) have just passed the one million milestone.

ERMS provides easy to use, secure electronic referral forms for most services listed on HealthPathways, ensuring people in need of health services are connected to the right person as soon as possible. It makes sure a request gets a response, helps protect patient privacy through keeping communications secure, and cuts waste out of the system by saving patients' and clinicians' time.

David Meates, Canterbury District Health Board chief executive, says passing the one million mark in Canterbury is a remarkable and satisfying achievement.

"ERMS plays a fundamental part in our strategy of bringing care closer to home by making general practice people's first point of contact for health care," Mr Meates says. ​

"ERMS was designed by clinicians, for clinicians, to prevent people getting lost in the system as happened all too often before ERMS was designed. A key feature that has led to its South Island-wide success is that requests can go to any part of the system, whether public or private, and incorporate community-based as well as hospital-based services." 

ERMS was launched in Canterbury in 2009 and has since been rolled out in all five South Island DHBs, who together provide health care and support to more than a million people.

"This is an excellent example of collaboration across our Canterbury health system for the benefit of patients, and how working closely with other South Island DHBs can spread those benefits further and help still more people," Mr Meates says.

"I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Pegasus Health in particular, who were instrumental in the development of ERMS and continue to work with us and our South Island DHB partners on its ongoing evolution. Thanks too to our other Canterbury Primary Health Organisations; Rural Canterbury PHO and Christchurch PHO whose support has been crucial."

Christchurch general practitioner and ERMS Chair, Graham McGeoch, thinks ERMS is a fantastic tool that improves the quality of care General Practice teams provide because it is fast and easy to use, and frees up more time for patients.

Dr McGeoch says using ERMS, he can often submit a request while the patient is still with him. ​

"The electronic form pre-populates with key patient information from the patient record, such as past medical history and medications," he says.

"The referrer can easily add the key information such as test results needed by specialist services to manage the referral. This information then goes straight into the electronic record at the hospital and an appointment or service arranged with few delays."

Dr McGeoch says better quality information provided in this way helps the specialist receiving the request to make an accurate assessment and to respond quickly.

"Sometimes ERMS triggers a phone call or written advice back to general practice which helps patients get the right care," he says.​

"ERMS has really strengthened the link between community-based care and specialist services. It is one of those simple ideas that has become one of the best tools we have in ensuring we provide a timely, effective and consistently high standard of care." 

Page last reviewed: 20 February 2017
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