Poster Presentations

P-15: eReferral Solution:  Exploring Effectiveness and Benefits to Providers and Patients

Dr. Heba Tallah Mohammed

Heba Tallah Mohammed, PhD*,
Lori-Anne, M.Ed

The eHealth Centre of Excellence
System Coordinated Access (SCA)

Topic: eHealth

Research indicates that long wait-time to access a service or a specialist’s care is a common challenge to seamless healthcare in Canada with an estimated 155% increase of wait-time periods reported in the past two decades. Patients are frustrated with the notification system and the lack of information about their referral process. The traditional paper-based interface used in most of the healthcare practices is linked to several problems such as the inadequate communication between healthcare providers (HCPs), which might be contributing to the lengthy referral wait-time. With the support of the MOHLTC, the system Coordinated Access Program (SCA) is working to design and deploy an electronic referral solution (eReferral) in 5 LHINs across Canada. The program aims to enhance communication between HCPs, track patient referrals through a secure electronic platform and inform patients along the referral process through automatic email notification.

Our pilot study assessed the feedback of early adopters in Waterloo Wellington LHIN (WWLHIN) of the eReferral solution and their overall satisfaction with the quality and functionality of the system and its effect on work productivity. It also identified their opinion on the potential benefits and barriers to use the system. We also explored patients’ opinion of the electronic referrals and notification system.

This pilot project employed a descriptive design where 17 early adopter users (healthcare professionals, and Central Intake’s staff) in WWLHIN responded to an online satisfaction survey 6-month after the adoption of the Solution in their practice site. Also, 72 patients who received e-mail notifications of their booked appointment through the Solution provided their feedback on the notification system and the eReferral process through the online patient satisfaction survey.

Our response rate was 35% for the users’ survey and 10% for the patients’ survey. The overall satisfaction and perception of the functionality and quality of the system were high among both users and patients. Most (85%) of the patients and 71% of the users were satisfied with the eReferral system, and functionality of notification. Slightly less than two-thirds of users (63%) believed the system reduced the time spent notifying patients of their appointment and 75% of patients felt they were more informed throughout the referral process.  When asked about the experience of using the eReferral process, 94% of users and 87% of patients thought the eReferral system is an easy process to use. The majority of patients (87%) preferred the electronic referral process than the past referral experience and agreed that receiving a confirmation e-mail about appointment booking has improved their experience. When users were asked about their perception of benefits of the eReferral system, 93.8% believed it had improved communication between HCPs, 71% thought that the system is easily integrated with their workflow and 77% agreed that the features in the eReferral system enabled them to perform their work well.

Findings implicate the readiness of the eReferral Solution in shaping a standardized coordinated system with active communication process meeting the needs of both patients and providers.