Clinicians at Wiltshire PCT are now able to electronically refer patients to local primary care services using a new system called Access to Care, provided by Quicksilva.

Access to Care is described as a clinical communication hub, which allows GPs and other healthcare professionals to refer patients to local services, such as community nurses and therapists, in a single transaction.

Staffed by triage clinicians, Access to Care uses the PCT’s directory of services to pass patients onto the most relevant service and handles all the required communication and administration. It can also arrange for the patient to be admitted to a community hospital, or if necessary, the appropriate district general hospital.

Dr Jamie Brosch, director, Wiltshire Medical Services, who provide Access to Care for Wiltshire, told EHI Primary Care: “Access to Care aims to provide a single point of contact for GPs looking to refer on patients. Enabling online referrals was the natural solution, meaning we needed robust and secure integration with our existing systems.

“Up to now, PCT referrals were done manually, usually over the telephone or via fax, now authorised users can log in securely over the N3 network and make the referrals. No information is stored on Access to Care, it is simply transferred to the corresponding system.”

Dr Brosch added the system has been tailored to integrate with Adastra software to ensure the right datasets were transmitted when a referral was made at any time of the day.

He added: “Virtually no training is needed to use the training as it simply runs like a normal website asking the necessary questions and making it easy to make referrals online. By avoiding the need to fax or fill in physical forms this cuts the time needed to refer patients but also automatically captures all necessary patient information.”

Quicksilva say Access to Care is the first system of its type in the UK, and it not only cuts the time taken to refer patients, but provides a failsafe method that automatically captures all necessary patient information and avoids the need to retype data.

“The successful launch of Access to Care demonstrates how technology is critical to both improving patient care and making the work of healthcare professionals less time-consuming,” commented Gayna Hart, managing director, Quicksilva.

“Access to Care is leading the way in speeding up the referral process, avoiding unnecessary administration and hospital visits and we believe that this project can be used as the model for others across the UK,” she added.