A pioneering project is set to be piloted in East Cornwall, which is expected to revolutionise the way patient referrals and appointments are handled.

Neil Parsons, Development Manager for East Cornwall Locality, has spearheaded the project.

Neil says: “The current system for Dermatology referrals can sometimes be time-intensive for practice staff and involve a number of organisations and NHS systems to generate an appointment. At present, in order to refer a patient to a specialist consultant, the GP will usually dictate a letter for opinion to the secretary, who will type in the details and forward through the national eReferral service. The request will then be assessed by an administrator or sometimes a clinician, who will decide whether it is most appropriate for the patient to be seen at the hospital or a local clinic and by whom. There is potential for patients to be allocated for a hospital appointment when the patient could have been managed by local community services. At the other end of the process, after the patient has been seen by the dermatologist, a letter will be sent back to the GP. The practice administration team will need to scan the letter and assign to the patient record.

“The whole process can be time intensive and we wanted to create a more effective streamlined system that would enable improved patient care as well as save clinicians time and increase accuracy of patient management.”

Neil continues: “We are really excited about the new project, which is set to be piloted by Oaktree Surgery, Quay Lane Surgery and Rosedean Surgery in East Cornwall by the end of 2017.

“Using Microtest’s patient-record sharing system, Guru, the whole system for dermatology referrals will be transformed.

“Now, the Guru GP can type a Consultation Note for the patient direct into the Open Evolution clinical system and the record will be shared immediately with Dermatology clinicians. Through the Guru interface, the GP can also now access an Appointments module, which means that the GP or practice administrators can book the patient into a specialist consultation right there and then.  So, the patient is able to leave the surgery with their dermatology consultation already set up and confirmed. The improvement in the patient experience is huge.

“Similarly, after the patient has attended their consultation appointment, the consultation notes will go straight into Workflow and be stored in the patient’s electronic health records instantly.

“In addition, Guru includes a Reporting module, which means that all results are immediately available to report back to our commissioning group, as well as making it easier for the team to analyse their service performance.”

Neil adds: “This is a fantastically innovative development and a real step forward in the way that clinician requests for dermatology opinion and patient treatment are handled.

“We are certain that this pilot will help transform Dermatology services in East Cornwall and we look forward to seeing it rolled out to other areas and other consultation areas beyond Dermatology.”