The system, which is built on PCTI’s Docman, has reformed the process by which referrals for outpatient services are logged, vetted and graded by clinicians and tracked through to appointment booking.
King’s deputy director of IT Clive Stringer presented on the project at the Docman user group conference recently, while Dr David Hopkins, clinical lead for diabetes, spoke about the impact on clinicians.
Dr Hopkins said that after using the system for a few months, he felt more assured that the diabetes team was handling referrals appropriately and all letters were being triaged within 24 hours.
He said it was easy to use and customisable, so clinicians could set up clear pathways for workflow through Docman that mirrored clinical processes.
He said it also provided a clear audit trail of who has done what to a document and allows clinicians to triage referral letters from anywhere on site.
Dr Hopkins said the “get an opinion button” meant he could forward a letter on to another clinician or his secretary to get more information if needed.
Stringer said the new system was live in seven departments and he expected to see the same benefits across all specialties.
He said the project was prompted by an external challenge from primary care trusts that wanted to set up a referral vetting system for GP referrals into the hospital.
The aim was to redirect some referrals to community services or other appropriate services where possible.
King’s also had internal plans to centralise referral management, bringing together all referrals that arrive via Choose and Book, email, fax and post.
The electronic system would also contribute to the trust’s target of becoming paper light by 2013, Stringer said.
The IT team has created an interface with the trust’s iSoft i.CM system, which allows staff to see referrals in Docman from the main clinical system.
The IT team has also created an interface with Choose and Book and plans to start transferring live files into Docman over the coming weeks.
Stringer said a single point of contact for patients regarding their referrals, combined with the new electronic system, should mean that staff can deal with patient queries with all the information at their fingertips.
Improvements for the future include the use of meta-data to show what has happened to a referral letter while in the EPR system.