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New online referrals feature to reduce administrative burden and lower costs

20 February 2017

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A new online tool to improve the referral process has been welcomed by practices.

NHS Digital designed the feature which makes it easier for GPs to viewservice referral criteria before referring a patient to secondary care.

This will bring about a reduction in administration work for staff, save GPs time, as well as lower practice costs.

The online tool is called the Verification of Referral Criteria and is now part of the NHS e-Referral Service.

NHS Digital has released a ‘roadmap’ showing the improvements to be delivered from now to October 2018 when providers will no longer be paid for activity that results from referrals made other than through the NHS e-Referral Service.

A practice in Lambeth has seen an improvement in time management as a result of the new tool: ‘It’s quicker to compare referral criteria on one screen. It also makes it less likely that we waste everyone’s time by referring inappropriately,’ said GP Dr Alex Mackay.

How it works:

After a referring clinician has shortlisted appropriate services, but prior to submitting the referral, a pop-up window is now displayed showing each shortlisted service and the following referral criteria:

  • Referrer Alert
  • Exclusions
  • Conditions Treated
  • Suggested Investigations

Using the information provided, the referrer will be able to:

  • Ensure each service is appropriate for the patient
  • Remove any inappropriate service(s) without having to return to the previous screen
  • Proceed with the referral or return to the service selection screen

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