The provision of timely and optimal patient care is a priority in pediatric academic health science centres. Timely access to care is optimized when there is an efficient and consistent referral system in place. In order to improve the patient referral process and, therefore, access to care, an innovative web-based system was developed and implemented. The Ambulatory Referral Management System enables the electronic routing for submission, review, triage and management of all outpatient referrals. The implementation of this system has provided significant metrics that have informed how processes can be improved to increase access to care. Use of the system has improved efficiency in the referral process and has reduced the work associated with the previous paper-based referral system. It has also enhanced communication between the healthcare provider and the patient and family and has improved the security and confidentiality of patient information management. Referral guidelines embedded within the system have helped to ensure that referrals are more complete and that the patient being referred meets the criteria for assessment and treatment in an ambulatory setting. The system calculates and reports on wait times, as well as other measures.
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