The Referral Support Tool (RST) is a web-based decision aid designed to support the flow of planned care referrals.

It can support healthcare professionals and clinical staff in managing patient care, providing vital information and intelligence direct to the GP at the point of referral. This a collaborative work tool designed to be owned and managed by commissioners and clinical membership, ensuring local information is consistently up-to-date, thereby improving the quality, safety and efficiency of referrals.

The context

The key requirement for the CCG was to bridge the gap between the existing referral routes and the e-referral system.

The client identified a number of key issues affecting the existing referrals process, resulting in inefficiencies. The main issue centered around the disparate referral routes currently used by the local Foundation Trust – ranging from post and email to fax. Due to a lack of up-to-date directory and real-time intelligence, GPs were not necessarily referring to the most appropriate provider.

Our role

A basic site map was developed in Excel, demonstrating information architecture and flow. We proposed a clean, simple interface given that the tool was to be used by GPs in the field – highlighting key areas of the site for ease of navigation. Main referrals area was developed from a previous version of the tool, enhanced with new graphics and cleaner design.

Additional requirements included news feed, directory, feedback form, forums and secure sign in capability. We were able to suggest and implement a more developed directory offering offering Google Maps integration.

Product and functionality testing was conducted throughout the development phase through both regular sessions with the client and wider testing/feedback from the clinical membership. This intelligence was fed back into the project team and used to implement improvements. Bespoke analytics were developed to provide practice-level usage data, ensuring the client is able to identify any issues quickly and respond accordingly – both in terms of user behaviour (traffic hot spots, issues with architecture, broken links) and overall compliance.

The outcome

  • Improved information sharing and intelligence at a local and regional level – the tool has since been adopted by other CCGs in the same area.
  • Increased efficiency for both clinician and patient.
  • Reduction in unnecessary and costly referrals.
  • Understanding of engagement at practice level via analytics and usage data.
  • Contribution to cost savings and access targets.