In September 2017, the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) approved new rules for referrals.
These new rules are designed to "streamline [physician's] processes and improve communications with each other and patients to eliminate any unnecessary delays."
The CPSA has laid out the following changes:
Starting in January 2017, physicians will have to meet new timeframes for acknowledging and responding to referral requests. If you are asked to consult on a patient, you will have:
- 7 days to acknowledge receipt of the request to the referring healthcare provider
- 14 days to let the referring healthcare provider know whether you can accept the referral
- 14 days to contact the patient to schedule an appointment or to confirm the status of the referral, if no appointment date has been determined
- 30 days to provide the referring healthcare provider with a written report after your first appointment with the patient
Consulting physicians will also need to be reasonably available to respond to referral requests and ensure their process is accessible.
Referring physicians will have to make sure they include all pertinent clinical information (including relevant investigation results) and purpose of the consultation with their request, to enable the consulting physician to determine whether he/she can accept the referral within the mandated 14-day timeframe.
While the CPSA has identified that these new rules "won’t necessarily shorten waiting lists," they are a much-needed first step towards improved continuity of care for Alberta patients.
And we couldn't agree more.
Since the inception of dr2dr, we've worked towards providing a platform for Alberta physicians and their staff that specifically addresses these concerns.
"7 days to acknowledge receipt of the request to the referring healthcare provider"
For every message sent within dr2dr, the system automatically requests and logs read receipts. These read receipts are visible within the conversation, meaning the sender will always know the second their message has been read. And since these read receipts are logged immediately, 7 days can become 1 hour - or even 1 minute.
"Consulting physicians will also need to be reasonably available to respond to referral requests and ensure their process is accessible"
One of dr2dr's best features is its notifications. dr2dr can notify a physician every time a new message is sent to them. These notifications can be sent via email, or even by text message. Notifications are also instant; the second you receive a new message, you will be instantly notified. These notifications only inform you that you have received a new message: no personal or confidential patient information is included in the notification. This ensures no privacy breach with notifications sent to your phone or email.
"Referring physicians will have to make sure they include all pertinent clinical information (including relevant investigation results) and purpose of the consultation with their request, to enable the consulting physician to determine whether he/she can accept the referral within the mandated 14-day timeframe"
dr2dr includes the ability for physicians to add patient demographics and attachments to any message, ensuring any and all relevant information is included. And since the attachments are sent digitally, there is no worry of receiving a poorly-printed or unreadable document.
Secure, digital communication will without a doubt be a part of the future of healthcare. The CPSA has identified the need for an improved referral process, and dr2dr easily meets their guidelines.
On January 2, 2017, the CPSA's referral guidelines come in to effect. By incorporating dr2dr in your practice now, you can become compliant with the CPSA's guidelines today.