Preparing for the Pathways Referral Tracker
What is it?
While Pathways has always been used as a tool to inform decisions about patient referrals, the addition of the Referral Tracker to Pathways will now allow physicians and their staff to send and track referrals as well!
- A collaborative dashboard (accessible through your existing Pathways account) where both GPs and specialists can track patient referral status (ie. sent, received, patient wait listed or booked).
- The ability to use your existing office workflow to send a referral letter and accompanying documentation to the specialist clinic.
- Secure messaging between GP and specialist offices through the dashboard.
- Automated electronic patient notifications sent by email or text, including patient instructions.
Benefits to physicians
- GP offices know exactly when a specialist has accepted, waitlisted, or booked a patient.
- Electronic patient notifications significantly reduce MOA workload and improve communication with patients.
- Reduction in no-shows because appointment reminders are sent to patient 1 week and 48 hours before the appointment, plus GPs no longer feel pressured to make multiple referrals for a single patient.
- Each step of the referral is easily viewable in real time within the referral tracker dashboard and an audit trail is provided.
- Communications between GP and specialist offices are streamlined significantly, improving collegiality.
Benefits to patients
- Patients actually know where they are in the referral process without needing to call the GP or specialist office to find out.
- Patients receive electronic notifications that contain a link to confirm the appointment and that contain pertinent instructions.
- Notifications are sent to patients upon being waitlisted and once their appointment is booked. Reminders of the appointment are sent 1 week and 48 hours before their appointment.
Pathways has been working with the White Rock/South Surrey Division to pilot a prototype of the Referral Tracker. The pilot phase ended as of December 2018 and currently work is ongoing to expand use of the Referral Tracker to the rest of the Division.
Following implementation of the Referral Tracker to the rest of White Rock/South Surrey, we plan to start expansion to additional Divisions in 2019.
Preparing for implementation
There are a number of steps that Divisions can start working on now to prepare for implementation of the Referral Tracker.
- Create profiles for all family physicians.
In order to access the Referral Tracker dashboard in Pathways, GP users must have a profile created on Pathways (different than a user account). While each Division has had the discretion in the past to choose whether or not to list family physicians, this step will be required prior to implementation. A short form version of the survey (ie. only name and contact information) will be provided to facilitate this data collection.
- Transition group access keys over to individual keys.
Whereas Pathways has historically given Divisions the option of offering both individual and group access keys, only individual keys will be allowed for users wishing to use the Referral Tracker. This is due to the fact that Pathways must maintain an adequate audit trail of the various steps in each patient referral. Pathways Administrators will be required to provide individual keys to anyone (both physicians and MOAs) who do not yet have an access key.
- Collect consent forms.
One of the particularly helpful features of the Referral Tracker is the ability to send electronic notifications to patients. However, patients must first provide consent in order to be contacted in this manner. Clinics can start working now on collecting these consents so that they are prepared in advance for implementation. Pathways provides a short one page consent just for using the Referral Tracker, or the longer CMPA form that applies to all electronic communication from a physician’s office, if you also plan on communicating with patients outside of the Referral Tracker.
- Identify champions.
One of the important learnings from the White Rock pilot was the importance of being highly engaged with GPs, specialists, and MOAs throughout the process of implementation. Having champions from each of these groups who can reach out directly their peers and demonstrate enthusiasm for the project goes a long way to driving success!