A faster referral process for people needing eye care in hospital

The NHS is transforming how eye services are delivered by introducing a digital referral system for eye care clinicians referring patients to eyecare services. This means a quicker and easier process behind the scenes, resulting in a seamless and faster patient journey.

The new referral system, ‘Midlands Electronic eyecare Referral System’ (EeRS), will allow clinicians to send a detailed, real-time referral with digital images and further information, such as test results electronically. It will improve patient experience by speeding up the process of referral and diagnosis between NHS organisations and enabling faster access to services. With complex pathways, the system will ensure referrals go to the right place first time, delivering care in the right setting (whether that is at a local optician or in hospital) and by the appropriate eye health professional.

Cinapsis have been awarded the contract which will initially be rolled out across three areas within the Midlands and be introduced more widely across the Midlands over the next 12 months. The three early adopters will be Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin ICS, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICS and Derby and Derbyshire ICS.

The new system will mean improved communication between all eye care service providers. Where it is commissioned locally, advice and guidance from the ophthalmology department will be provided when a referral may not be required.

Rebecca Woods, NHS England Midlands Head of Primary Care Commissioning said: “This is great news; the new system means we can process referrals quicker and patients can access services sooner. It will improve the quality of referrals, so we get accurate, detailed information from the beginning. Clinicians can choose where the referral is sent, and easily track it, helping to reduce patient anxiety. It is a much more efficient process and will reduce the need to repeat tests that have already been undertaken and may mean fewer visits to the hospital.

Dr Owain Rhys Hughes, Founder and CEO at Cinapsis, said: “We’re delighted to be working with systems and providers across the Midlands to deliver faster, streamlined eye care referrals through the Midlands Electronic eyecare Referral System. With ophthalmology patients currently facing some of the largest wait times nationwide, this is an incredibly positive step towards supporting clinicians to speed up access to care for patients and to be able to deal with the more complex cases in a timely way.

“By enabling clinicians across primary and secondary care to communicate and share specialist advice and guidance in real-time, this is enabling more collaborative and efficient referral decisions to be made. As a result, clinicians are able to direct patients to the right source of care, sooner – and reduce the risk of patients joining hospital wait lists unnecessarily.”