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e-Referral 6 Months on

e-Referral 6 Months on.

e-Referral, it is now 6 months since the changeover from Choose & Book (C&B) over the weekend 13th & 14th June.

The Health & Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) have just published the weekly booking details. This shows the number of bookings declined during June 2015 to around 37,000 per workday from the previous month of around 42,500 per workday in May. This may sound a lot but the number of working days a GP is around to see patients and make a referral does affect utilisation rates as does patient availability with holiday periods.

6 months on we can now see in the data that the transfer to e-Referrals has been a success. Bookings remained comparable to June 2014. Over the year to date the number of new bookings has reached over 830,000 a month compared with 2014 at 797,000.

Despite many respected journals critical articles on the e-Referral system including those aimed at GP’s they have been confounded which probably explains why none of these journals have recognised the success.

New Bookings each month

10 million bookings a year and growing

Now the transition to e-Referral has been achieved the 10 million new bookings a year should grow rapidly.

With the capability to support diagnostic and therapy new referrals, the volume of new referrals from health professionals looks set to grow towards 15 million in 2016 and by 2020 50 million across all new referral categories.

With the potential to manage follow up appointments and self referral, e-referrals has the potential to transform commissioning and capacity and demand across the NHS.

The only people who are holding back the huge potential from the e-Referral system are the GP practices who through a long standing dislike for Choose & Book refuse to support patients to exercise choice and take control of their healthcare.

e-Referral 6 months on. What is the future?

In the coming months we will explore the potential to give patients the power to search for appointment and waiting times via an App. Currently most patients are being denied this information by the GP or GP practice.

The only thing holding back the greater use of the data is an embargo on not releasing the data until 8 weeks after the event. This has been justified on the basis of data confidentiality yet the the data still carries exactly the same data 8 week later so confidentiality is clearly not the justification, just the smoke screen.

By holding back data the NHS is denying access to data that all smart businesses now could not survive without. It is like Tesco’s trying to manage its stock levels by looking 8 weeks after each days trading to decide what to order.

Sounds about right for the NHS.