Securing appointments for MRI scans at South Tipperary General Hospital is set to be fast-tracked thanks to the introduction of a new electronic referral facility.
With referrals heretofore having relied on fax, post and telephone, leading to considerable time delays as well as human error, GPs and consultants will now be able to send their appointment request with the press of a button on a newly introduced system, even as patients sit in front of them.
This can lead to patients potentially receiving appointments on the same day as their consultation, eliminating delays of up to four days in the process.
The new system has been introduced through a partnership between Alliance Medical - operators of the MRI Centre at South Tipperary General Hospital and the country’s leading specialist in diagnostic scans - and Clanwilliam Health, the nation’s largest practice management provider for private consultants and GPs.
The system uses the HSE’s web-based messaging service, Healthlink, which provides for the secure transmission of clinical patient information, including referrals, between hospitals, health care agencies and GPs.
Commenting, Eimear O’Donnell, HR Manager at Alliance Medical, Ireland said: “This is a very significant development for people whose GPs and Consultants need to refer to the Alliance Medical MRI Centre Clonmel as well as other Alliance Medical locations around the country. We provide the quickest access to diagnostic appointments for patients but historically, there has been a delay in the referral process because of the manual effort required for GPs to send a referral via fax, telephone or post.
“This partnership with Clanwilliam Health means that doctors can now refer their patients for scans electronically through Healthlink while the patient is sitting in front of them. That gives instant access to the system and will result in appointments being offered potentially on the same day they are sought, cutting out a lot of delays in the process. The results of the scans will also be transmitted back to the referring doctors electronically through this system, speeding up patient diagnosis.
“This not alone significantly reduces the time it takes to get a referral but ultimately a more timely diagnosis. It also leads to a reduction in cost and enhances efficiencies for GP practices and at a time when many, particularly in rural areas, are under pressure due to dwindling populations and GP availability.”
Emmet Gilhooley, Enterprise Account Manager at Clanwilliam Health, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer GPs easy access to refer patients to one of the country’s top diagnostic specialists. To avail of the service GPs simply need to follow the normal steps they would take when electronically referring a patient to a public hospital, except now they will have access to the Alliance Medical scans at all their sites throughout the country, including South Tipperary General Hospital. This gives them same-day access to diagnostic scans whereas the reality up until now has been that the referral process could take anywhere between a few days to a week. This is an exciting step forward for not only Clanwilliam Health and South Tipperary General Hospital but also for the patient and the overall healthcare ecosystem.”