The one millionth electronic referral or request for specialist advice in the South Island was processed on 16 March.
It’s a far cry from the days of handwritten notes and faxes between health care providers, and a huge step towards delivering a faster, smoother health journey for all South Island residents.
Development of the South Island Electronic Request Management System (ERMS) began in Canterbury in 2009 and, through a true collaborative effort, the millionth referral was processed by a medical centre in Southern DHB on 16 March.
The South Island Alliance, a collaboration of the five South Island DHBs, implemented ERMS across the entire South Island, effectively enabling referrals across DHB boundaries anywhere in the South Island.
Using ERMS, general practice teams make a referral or request for specialist advice via an electronic form, which is submitted directly to a secure referrals database. From there, requests are delivered automatically to any one of over 700 community and hospital services, public and private.
GPs and other referrers can select the most appropriate and convenient specialist and will be able to track their referrals, which provides certainty, clarity and transparency across the system for over a million South Island residents.
South Island Alliance General Manager, Jan Barber says, “By pooling our resources and working together, we’ve been able to achieve things that would have been impossible had we worked alone. Collaborating in this way has its challenges, but it means we can work to each other’s strengths, avoid duplication and ultimately improve the way we deliver services across our large and diverse South Island population.
“ERMS is one of several initiatives we are working on at a regional level that aim to provide people with equal access to the right care when they need it. We all need health care at some point in our lives and for me, it means peace of mind.”
ERMS provides health care providers across the South Island health system with an unprecedented level of connectedness. It also supports general practice and other community-based providers in their role as the central point for all patient care needs and strengthens their ability to provide care closer to home and help people stay well in their communities for longer.