The North East CCAC receives approximately 50% of all referrals from hospitals, so it makes sense to focus resources on this critical transition between acute and community care providers. The implementation of the CCAC's Resource Matching Referral (RMR) project – also known as eReferral – demonstrates how innovative technology can be a springboard to higher quality patient care by smoothing these transitions through improved interagency collaboration and communication.
"In light of the high volume of patient referral information that is exchanged between hospitals and the CCAC, the question on the minds of all partners is, 'How we can best ensure that this information is relayed accurately and securely transmitted?'" says Kerby Audet, CCAC Director, Care Coordination. "But looking beyond that, with an electronic patient record we also see that there are opportunities to leverage this information into better patient care." Read more…
From the beginning, the vision for RMR was to support this crucial communication through the implementation of electronic referrals across 24 hospitals in the North East. This required a collaborative effort not only across the region but the entire province, involving over 250 people from organizations such as eHealth, LHINs, the Northeastern Ontario Network (NEON), hospitals, the Ontario Association of CCACs (OACCAC), pharmacies, service provider organizations, and our own CCAC. In addition, Health Sciences North, Manitoulin Health Centre and Espanola Regional Hospital and Health Centre, through NEON, provided invaluable development work as part of the original pilot.
The RMR initiative led to some pioneering firsts, including the development of a multi-platform hospital privacy agreement that included eReferral, eNotification and Health Partner Gateway (HPG). Developed in the North East and subsequently adopted as a new provincial standard, this agreement meant a more efficient process for the review and approval of privacy agreements by each individual hospital as they signed on for these new electronic technology platforms. The OACCAC and the hospitals also worked together to enhance the RMR Acute to CCAC Provincial Standard, so that medical orders could be transferred from hospitals and integrated into the CCACs' patient record system.
Cross-agency front line employees were engaged in significant quality improvement efforts which led to the development and standardization of several regionalized and improved business processes, such as referrals for new and existing patients, updates to referral information, and referral cancellations. All of these efforts supported system and service integration; timely access to information; consistency through standardization; and stronger linkages between partners. The ultimate goal of course is enhanced patient care through the reduction of duplication and error, improved security of personal health information, and support for timely response from receipt of referral to assessment and admission for service.
Virtual care capability has also taken a leap forward, as RMR provides the ability to proactively analyze a patient's information for health risks, and alert healthcare providers when issues are identified based on established health determinant criteria.
"RMR provides greater potential for partners to work together to develop new and innovative solutions to improve patient transitions," enthuses CCAC Project Manager, Leander Gillard. "One example is to expand eReferral to primary care and other system partners like community mental health, service provider organizations, and any care provider who would benefit from the use of referral information through HPG."
Opportunities also exist for knowledge-sharing with other CCACs in order to support their own RMR implementations. The North East CCAC and its experienced staff are eager to work closely with all partners to support the expansion of RMR across the province's health care system.