Referral plan to cover SI

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 05:00 15/12/2012

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An electronic system for referring patients between health practitioners is ready to be rolled out across the South Island, making it easier and faster for patients to receive treatment.

More than 100,000 referrals have now been made in Canterbury using the South Island Alliance's electronic referral system.

More than three-quarters of all referrals between the region's health practitioners are now made using the system, which replaces paper letters.

The system has been developed over the past three years in Canterbury.

South Island Alliance information services workstream chairman Andrew Bowers said having a single system across the South Island would make referring patients between district health boards easier and significantly reduce duplication and costs.

"This system will considerably speed up the process of being referred by GPs to the hospital and also for referrals between hospitals," he said.

"There should never be lost, delayed or illegible referrals any more, and waiting times are expected to fall."

Feedback from GPs and hospital staff had been positive, he said.

In some cases, GPs were already able to get direct access to hospital tests or procedures, which previously required an outpatient referral first.

Bowers said it was hoped the system would eventually allow patients to go online and see appointments and learn more about their own health.

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- The Press

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