Need greater control of your referral pathway?
Ian Cooper, Senior Partner at Accenda explores how an effective referral gateway can help reduce demand on secondary care and assist in delivering QIPP, whilst increasing overall control of referrals.
With QIPP firmly in place to support the NHS to make efficiency savings and GPs being given notional budgets to purchase health care for their patients, it is crucial for CCGs to look at managing costs and review clinical pathways. In a worsening financial climate, it is clear that effective and efficient management of demand for secondary care is imperative, with a completely electronic system also helping towards other NHS agendas such as 'Paperless by 2018'.
Effective referral management solutions such as the Integrated Care Gateway® (ICG) can help reduce demand on secondary care and at the same time assist in improving the quality of care. The ICG has already seen CCGs achieve financial savings of around £4-6M as a result of deflected referrals and providing appropriate secondary care.
Integrated Care Gateway standardises the referral process giving CCGs greater visibility of referrals. ICG allows referrals to be clinically assessed and where appropriate and redirected to community services. Referrals can also be sent back to the referring GP with advice and guidance or they could be identified as a procedure of limited clinical value. These procedures ensure the appropriateness of referrals and provide healthier alternatives for everyone involved, saving time and resources.
ICG Endpoint™ is where referrals are uploaded to the system and tracked through to completion, this means that the referring practice can keep up to date with the referral, whether the referral is in the booking phase or the triage phase, this tool will let you know. It will also show when the referral has been booked and completed as will an email sent to the practice as confirmation.
The ICG Portal™ then provides GPs, Practices and CCG staff online access to a business intelligence dashboard, allowing them to monitor valuable real time referral data. Practices have instant access to live data and can review their referrals even from the previous hour and understand exactly what has happened to them at any point in time, making it completely audit-able. What's more, a surgery dashboard shows practices how their referral patterns compare to other practices in their area.
Apart from helping to deflect activity (reductions of 12-15% in Outpatient referrals have been achieved), the solution also provides on-going education through advice and guidance being fed back to practices, almost like a second opinion. Intelligence from the live data and feedback loop can be used for CPD, for QoF and QP points, as well as for the redesign of clinical pathways.
- Utilising an electronic referral platform - validating referrals to ensure they are complete and correct.
- Increased work-up in primary care.
- Reduction in acute planned activity.
- Improved usage of Community Services.
- The ability to track referrals and receive real-time updates on their progress.
The benefits of the ICG are also evident to secondary care providers, who are now receiving validated and tracked referrals, in a standard format, complete with the patients' medical history extracted automatically from GP information systems. Improved quality of referrals, combined with more appropriate clinical pathways, means that hospitals are now getting the correct mix of patients, leading to further efficiency gains for the NHS.
It is difficult to ignore the growing pressure on services caused by a growing, ageing and more demanding population. There is a real need to help CCGs manage and analyse demand in their communities. Without proper insight, it becomes impossible for CCGs to improve on their services and achieve financial gains. By optimising the referral management process through the supply of real-time referral intelligence, the Integrated Care Gateway can provide higher quality referrals, where patients are seen more appropriately, closer to home and with shorter waiting times.