Sick Kids launches online referral
TORONTO – The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids)
is launching an automated, Web-based referral system – the first of its
kind in Canada – to support more timely and efficient management of
referrals to its outpatient clinics.
The Ambulatory Referral Management (ARM) system will electronically
route patient referrals for review, triage and booking. It will then
provide physicians and other healthcare professionals with automated
faxed responses to let them know the status of their referrals: when a
referral has been received, whether it has been redirected and to whom,
and when the patient has been booked for an appointment.
“In addition to streamlining the referral process and improving
communications, this unique system will help us measure and manage wait
times in each clinic – specifically, the time between when a referral is
received, to when a patient is seen by a specialist,” said Dr. Daune
MacGregor, associate paediatrician-in-chief.
Currently, there is no other system in Canada that measures this wait
“At SickKids we’re constantly working to provide the best care possible
by finding better ways to do things,” said Cindy Bruce-Barrett,
director, Strategic Projects. “Hundreds of healthcare professionals were
involved in developing and testing this system, and their feedback was
invaluable. We’ll get more input and make adjustments before expanding
the system to include all of our ambulatory clinics.”
The new system is being piloted in phases, beginning with seven clinics.
Online referrals are now being accepted in the Gastroenterology/Hepatology/Nutrition
clinic. On October 30, Haematology and Nephrology were to be added; on
November 1, Neurology and Cardiology and on November 3, Orthopaedics and
Ophthamology. The remaining clinics will be added to the system in early
Online referral forms are available at
https://www.sickkids.on.ca/referralsystem and on the SickKids web
site at www.sickkids.ca.
The site features referral guidelines that provide important information
on patient criteria; which healthcare professionals may refer; and what
they can do or send to help Sick Kids staff determine the appropriate
care for each patient. The guidelines section also provides information
on alternatives for patients who do not meet the referral criteria.
For a healthcare professional who is not sure which clinic to contact,
the system features a search function that enables him or her to type in
the problem, then view a list of all clinics that deal with the issue,
as well as a list of specific guidelines.
For those who do not have Internet access, Sick Kids will continue to
accept fax referrals until all healthcare professionals have transferred
to the online system. Urgent referrals for patients who need to be seen
within 24 hours should be made to the appropriate clinic by phone.
Initially, because of the limits of current technology, referring
professionals will receive responses by fax rather than email for
security reasons. The hospital hopes to upgrade the system in the future
to allow automated email responses.
The ARM system was developed by the Information Services team at Sick
Kids and is supported by a grant from the Ministry of Health and
Long-Term Care Wait Time Strategy.
The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids), affiliated with the
University of Toronto, is Canada’s most research-intensive hospital and
the largest centre dedicated to improving children’s health in the
country. As innovators in child health, Sick Kids improves the health of
children by integrating care, research and teaching.
Its mission is to provide the best in complex and specialized care by
creating scientific and clinical advancements, sharing our knowledge and
expertise and championing the development of an accessible,
comprehensive and sustainable child health system. For more information,