Gippsland Referral System Analysis Project Report – January 2017

The purpose of the Project was to identify the current referral practices and systems that are in use across the Gippsland region; to map referral projects underway or completed, and to assist in the identification of challenges, barriers and opportunities for effective referral across all health sectors in the region. The report concludes with the findings and recommendations to the Project.

Further information is available from Gippsland PHN, System Integration Manager, Mr Paul Macdonald: paul.macdonald@gphn.org.au

Discussion Paper - Referral System Analysis Project

The attached discussion paper is intended as a starting point to explore with a broad audience of medical, social and community health professionals referral systems and the complexities facing consumers and providers in Gippsland.

Background

Gippsland PHN announced in mid 2016 a project to Evaluate Referral Systems in Gippsland – the project is now complete.

All too often we hear the community comment on the lack of connectivity and communication between health services, the impact this has on timely access to care and information, and the level of frustration it causes clinicians. Referral systems vary across and within health services, some systems are now electronic, others are still very manual, and more often than not primary care needs to manage ten different referral systems simultaneously.

Gippsland PHN seeks the input of health care and community organisations across the Gippsland region to build an understanding of the referral platforms and entry points that exist, and to identify capacity and gaps in service provision. A number of general practices, hospitals, community health services, specialists, allied health and community services will be contacted from the six Local Government Areas in Gippsland. The analysis will be a collaborative approach to understand current systems and referral pathways and to evaluate effective and scalable referral systems.

Gippsland PHN has commissioned Melbourne East General Practice Network (MEGPN) to undertake the analysis. The MEGPN team comprises of:

  • Adam McLeod, CEO, who has a background in nursing and health informatics.
  • Associate Professor Chris Pearce, a General Practitioner, ED physician and academic in the field of general practice and health informatics.
  • Rod Amos, DHHS, providing liaison and advice to align outcomes to the DHHS Victorian eReferral Program.
  • Gary Morris, MEGPN Project Manager, with a history working with DHHS and community health in the technology and business space.

The team brings a wide range of skills and experience with clinical background and health informatics, working across the public health sector and primary care referral over many years, and more recently with Primary Health Networks and DHHS.

The objectives of the Referral System Analysis Project are to:

  • Partner with key stakeholders to ensure engagement with the project
  • Identify work that has been completed or underway in Gippsland and directed towards service access, coordination and referral
  • Undertake and identify the various types of health services such as, but not limited, to general practice, hospitals, community health services, specialist services, and private providers in Gippsland
  • Identify the types of referral systems used by GPs when sending referrals to specialist and health services (electronic and manual)
  • Identify the types of referral systems used by health services including entry point(s) where referrals are accepted (electronic and manual)
  • Identify challenges and barriers for effective referral such as system and operational variance between health services, service gaps and waiting lists
  • Provide recommendations for an improved referral service system, exemplifying the strengths and weaknesses in the existing system to inform an approach for referral uniformity across Gippsland

The project is designed to deliver:

  • A comprehensive and systematic description of Gippsland health services and health programs incorporating the types of referral systems and operational platforms
  • A service map analysis of system capabilities and gaps within the region, including recommendations for improving pathways and linkages between services
  • A summary of the quality, strengths and weaknesses of the existing systems impacting the development of localised referral pathways
  • An understanding of the consumer perspective in the context of self-referral, access to and availability of health services and programs
  • An understanding of the general practitioner perspective in the context of referral (and feedback), access to and availability of health services and an understanding of:
    • Number of referrals sent by general practitioners per week, the requested service and reason for referral
    • The mechanism in which the referral was sent – fax, post and/or secure electronic referral
    • If secure electronic, what eHealth management system or software is used to send and receive the referral
    • Does the health/specialist service acknowledge the referral and how?
    • Does the health/specialist service or provider send reports back to the referrer, if so how?
  • A resource to inform efficient and appropriate development of localised health referral pathways
  • Recommendations for improved referral systems in Gippsland, not limited to the IT view.

A range of engagement techniques will be used to explore information, including surveys, one on one interviews or focus groups.

If you would like to contribute your experience to the project please contact Henry Yu at Gippsland PHN on 03 5126 2899.