NHS e-Referral Service Vision
Making paperless referrals a reality
By the spring of 2015 a new NHS e-Referral Service will be launched to replace the current Choose and Book service. It is being developed using feedback from patients and NHS professionals, and will use enhanced technology to deliver even greater benefits.
The new electronic referral service will improve the quality of the referral experience for patients and better support current and future business processes for clinicians and administrative staff.
In so doing, it will help create a more patient-centred, people-powered service, making the NHS much easier to do business with, and supporting the drive towards paperless referrals and a paperless NHS by 2018.
Progress towards the launch of the new service
The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) and NHS England are jointly committed to ensuring a smooth and efficient transition from Choose and Book to the new NHS e-Referral Service.
We had hoped to confirm a go-live date during the course of 2014, but, in order to ensure a safe and successful transition, this will be delayed while we complete our ongoing rigorous testing of the new service.
This testing is essential to ensure that the new system is fully fit for purpose and working well for the estimated 40,000 patients who book appointments in this way, every working day. It is also essential that we make sure that the transition to the new service will be as seamless as possible. The intent is that at go-live the system should look and function in a very similar way to Choose and Book. This will minimise the requirement for retraining of healthcare staff that will be using the new service.
Testing with GP and hospital system suppliers is progressing well. Early in 2015 the NHS e-Referral Service will be tested alongside the new NHS Care Identity Service to ensure integration with the controls that allow authorised staff to refer patients, book appointments, upload and review clinical information etc.
Users of the service are already heavily engaged in testing and the programme team will extend this, in late January 2015, to include a wider representation from both patients and professional users. This final phase of testing will help ensure that the system is safe and fit for purpose.
While this work continues towards achieving a successful go-live of the new NHS e-Referral Service, the existing Choose and Book service will, of course, continue to be maintained, ensuring patients can be referred to a hospital or clinic with their choice of place, date and time for their appointments.
A short animation which explains our visions for a new service
- The new NHS e-Referral Service will improve patient outcomes, user experiences and support the drive to a future paperless NHS referral system.
- The new service will build upon the benefits and successes of the Choose and Book system, acknowledging its failures (both real and perceived) and lessons learned.
- There will no longer be a mixed economy of paper and electronic referrals.
- The needs of patients and professionals will be foremost in designing the new service, which will include support for enhanced functionality and usability.
What might an NHS e-Referral Service look like in the future?
The needs of patients and professionals will be foremost in designing the new service, which will include support for enhanced functionality and usability. Hover over and click on the images to the right to find out more information.
A more intuitive system with a modern look and feel that will support the seamless transfer of referral information from GP clinical systems into provider systems.
Enhanced Advice and Guidance functionality and Clinical Request Templates supporting clinical decisions. Commissioners driven Referral Assessment Services.
Consultants able to make tertiary and onward referrals and commissioners being able to assign referrer rights to groups of clinicians and practitioners.
Ability to link appointments in a care pathway to ensure all take place in a pre-determined order.
Patients able to choose and book their own follow-up appointments electronically along with alert/reminder advising them when to book.
Commissioning organisations able to determine services that are appropriate to accept self-referrals from patients. Patients able to refer themselves into services.
A rich reporting function that provides easy access to referral and booking data in meaningful formats.
Use of modern technology - mobile phone Apps, e-mails, text reminders etc. to support different ways of communicating appointment-related information to patients and system alerts to professional users.
What have we heard so far?
Since 2004 over 40 million referrals from GP to first outpatient appointments have been made using Choose and Book (this content will open in a new window) and the service is used to refer around 40,000 patients every day.
We have been looking at the possibilities for a new solution and have been out and about in the NHS asking users and patients about their experiences and aspirations of what an ideal NHS e-Referral Service might look like in the future.
We have talked to a range of stakeholders, including Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), referrers (GPs), service provider organisations and, of course, patients. So far we have spoken to more than 2,500 stakeholders and they have told us about some of the functionality they would like to see from a future NHS e-Referral Service. To find out what we've heard so far and how to get involved in the development of the new service visit our getting involved page.
What will we do with information?
The feedback we have received so far has helped to shape the new NHS e-Referral Service. We have gained a greater understanding of user requirements and the information will allow us to prioritise proposed functionality for the future.
As we continue to engage with a variety of stakeholders, we will feedback into plans for the electronic referral service, ensuring that it meets user needs and is a reflection of what users have told us that they want.
We will continue to engage and feedback as the new service develops.