NS implements e-solution for surgical referrals
April 5, 2023
HALIFAX – Nova Scotia is making it easier for physicians to book surgical consults and patients to get information through the use of Ocean eReferrals, an electronic referrals system.
The province says the solution will provide better information to patients on the status of their referral and will, over time, lead to shorter wait times. It will make sending and receiving surgical referrals easier and faster for primary care providers and surgeons.
“Waiting for care is hard for patients and their families. It’s also frustrating for healthcare professionals when they don’t have the information to answer their patients’ questions,” said Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson (pictured). “Nova Scotians deserve short wait times that will keep them out of pain and allow them to move on with their lives.”
With the new system, primary care providers will send their requests for surgical consultations through e-referral instead of faxing, emailing or mailing requests directly to a surgeon. It will allow for better tracking, review and management of referrals and, in time, will include consult wait time information to allow for faster consults.
Patients who provide an email address and referring providers will receive automatic notifications when their referral is received, forwarded to a surgeon, and when a consult is booked or changed.
The service went live for primary care providers and surgeons at Nova Scotia Health and IWK Health on Friday, March 31.
“The long overdue model, combined with other initiatives and investments, is helping us transform surgical care for Nova Scotians. Gaining insight into the number and types of surgical referrals, how long patients are waiting to see a surgeon and more, will help lead to shorter waits for consults and give Nova Scotia Health and IWK Health the information we need to plan,” said Dr. Greg Hirsch, cardiac surgeon and senior medical director, Perioperative Services Network, Nova Scotia Health.
All non-emergency surgical referrals will eventually be processed centrally through the system. Work is under way to expand the use of the system to allow for e-referrals for diagnostic imaging services, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) scans and ultrasounds.