This week, we were invited to be part of the launch of a website called ezReferral. Family physician Dr. Denis Vincent identified gaps in the health system through experiences with his own practice as well as through Greg’s Journey and the HQCA Report and took a proposal to Hacking Health Edmonton in 2013. The hackathon pairs practitioners and their proposed projects with IT professionals that have the skills and expertise needed to be successful.
From a patient and family perspective, ezReferral will have significant benefits. Many of us will have experienced at least some frustration when being referred from their family doctor to specialists. Sometimes we do not know if or when the referral will actually result in an appointment, or indeed if the communication loop has been completed. Family doctors acting on behalf of patients feel the same frustration. EzReferral will close that gap for both patients and primary care physicians. It will save time, effort and will be cost efficient at all levels.
We were interested in it because of Greg’s experience and the gaps he experienced leading up to his death. The communication gaps and lack of confirmation were also noted in the HQCA’s Continuity of Care Report. Indeed, the report recommends a number of actions and Recommendation #2 speaks specifically about the individual steps that need to be taken and documented for everyone’s reference. They are:
- A request for service has been sent and received.
- A specific appointment date and time for the service has been set.
- The requesting provider and the patient have been notified of the appointment details (and the patient has accepted the appointment).
- The report of findings has been successfully sent to (and received by) the requesting provider.
Health “care” is a team effort. Teams can only function if there is good solid communication between the players. EzReferral is an excellent step to help close the existing gaps between family doctors, specialists, and patients. Dr. Denis and his dedicated team have made this web based program simple and easy to use with virtually universal application in doctor’s offices.
As patients and families, we can now look forward to a major improvement available to doctors that will not only make it easier for them and for their support staff to efficiently and effectively communicate with each other, but as patients we will also know the same time as they do that everything is proceeding as planned with our care.