Skip to main content

Surgeon offices receiving direct eReferrals support from Nova Scotia Health team

Photo:  Perioperative Services Network team members, Robin Lake (centre) and Karen Doherty (right), provide support to Vonda Brophy with Dr. John Hamilton's ophthalmology office in Antigonish.


When Nova Scotia launched its electronic surgical referral process (eReferrals) last March, there were just over 25 Nova Scotia Health surgeons fully set up to receive and process eReferrals in the tool.

Today that number has increased to 259 -- or 92 per cent of Nova Scotia Health’s surgeons -- with more surgeon offices completing onboarding and training each week. 100 per cent of IWK Health surgeons are also fully set up to use the tool.

More than 18,400 surgical eReferrals have been received in the tool since it launched, with a high of 779 surgical eReferrals received last week.

Karen Doherty and Robin Lake with Nova Scotia Health’s Perioperative Services team have covered a lot of ground over the past several months, travelling to more than 170 sites across to offer direct support to surgeons and their office staff.

The duo, with support from other team members, are helping these officers make the transition from traditional referrals to eReferrals for surgery, and diagnostic imaging services.

They were on the road meeting with teams in Antigonish and New Glasgow last week and are scheduled to connect with surgeons and staff at another 40 offices over the the next two weeks.

“We know this is a big change and have welcomed the chance to sit with surgeons and their administrative staff to walk them through the eReferrals set up and training, help them customize how the tool is configured for their use, and to answer their questions,” says Karen, a registered nurse and former cardiac surgery nurse who now works with the Perioperative Services Network as a Clinical Project Consultant.

“We have heard great feedback from surgeons and staff, who often feel much more at ease after receiving this support and knowing that we will continue to be here to assist them.”

These site visits also provide the team with opportunities to hear direct feedback about what works well and ways to improve the eReferrals tool, how it ties into their office’s electronic medical records (EMR) system, and more. To support ongoing enhancements, Karen and Robin bring this feedback back to team meetings and relay to the vendors supplying the eReferrals tool and EMRs.

“eReferrals offer many benefits for patients, providers and the health system, and we want to support providers to make the move and support the optimal use of the tool,” says Robin, Network Leader, with the Perioperative Services Network.

“It is so important that this system be efficient for those who have to use it and navigate it daily, and we see this as an important area of focus for us.”

The team is also supporting a new Surgeon eReferrals Advisory Group, involving Nova Scotia Health surgeons, which has recently come together to share their experiences with eReferrals, propose improvements, offer advice on communications tool, ongoing engagement with health care providers and more. A similar advisory group, involving primary care providers has been meeting since last summer and other teams are travelling the province supporting primary care providers and clinics with their set up and training.

Dr. Ahmed Jad, a general and bariatric surgeon from Colchester East Hants Health Centre, is among the surgeons taking part in the surgeon advisory group and has embraced the change and welcomed the supports available.

“When you have a system that you are used to, despite it being a bit deficient, and have a new system coming in, change can be hard, but once you get the training and access supports, it makes things more efficient and takes away a lot of the faults of the old traditional referral system.”


811 LogoIKW Logo211 Logo