This article was originally posted by SEAMO on December 2, 2021.
Dr. Siddhartha Srivastava from the Division of General Internal Medicine is working in a large multi-disciplinary team of clinicians, leaders, and experts from SEAMO, Kingston Health Sciences Center, primary care teams, and Queen’s University, working together biweekly on a pilot project that will bring together the various digital health tools in the region into one streamlined consultation process.
“The flow of health information across our digital health systems is patchy and inefficient, leading to delays in care,” Dr. Srivastava says. “Many information systems, both electronic and paper-based, are not integrated and remain siloed. One example is the referral process to access specialist care, which can be fragmented, inefficient and inequitable.” The team’s pilot project is supported by Ministry of Health funding and has brought together clinicians, administrative assistants, experts in digital health tools and leaders and project managers at Kingston Health Sciences Centre to “implement and evaluate an innovative integrated healthcare delivery model, transforming a fragmented specialist referral process into a standardized, streamlines and integrated consultation process using digital health tools.”
Dr. Srivastava explains how these tools can work together seamlessly. “OCEAN eReferral allows primary care providers an effective way to communicate referrals. The Novari eRequest electronic waitlist management system will enable specialists to electronically receive, manage and track new referrals. Together, they provide an end-to-end solution, integrated into the hospital health record, for referral management,” he says. “As our regional health partners prepare for the incoming clinical transformation with the Health Information System (HIS), integrating primary care is critical for safe, efficient, timely and patient-centred care. To better serve the patients in our region, this project augments the incoming HIS functionality and increases interoperability between the hospital systems like the HIS and the community clinicians.”
This project will redesign, standardize and improve the referral process using digital health technologies. “We will implement and evaluate an integrated electronic referral, triage and waitlist management system across pilot specialties,” he explains. “We aim to improve access to specialist care, reduce wait times, provide timely consultations, improve the quality of referrals, enhance the communication between primary care providers and specialists and increase patient satisfaction.”
Dr. Srivastava wants people to know this project is bridging the gaps in care using digital health technologies to ensure a flow of information to deliver high-quality care for patients across the spectrum of primary care, specialists and hospitals. “Digital health initiatives have the potential to solve some of the inefficiencies of our healthcare system’s consultation referral process. Primary care physicians are using digital health technologies, including electronic referrals (OCEAN eReferrals). This approach, coupled with central intake, has shown promise to reduce variability in access times, remove duplicate referrals and improve access,” he says. “Our work aims to break down information silos to streamline and improve the quality of care and we want to spread this model to other specialties across our hospital and regional health partners with additional support.”