New consultant link-up cuts GP patient referrals
A NEW online system allowing GPs to interact with consultants is cutting back on waiting lists and reducing unnecessary referrals.
The system was introduced for patients who need to see a neurologist in St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin, but now could be extended to a range of other specialities.
Prof Niall Tubridy, a neurologist in St Vincent's who helped develop the Neurolink system, said it could now be applied to other medical specialities.
He explained that GPs fill out an electronic form including data about the patient, which takes an average of three minutes to complete.
"The neurologist then logs on and views the referral and sends a reply via the web application offering advice or indicating that the patient needs further investigation."
It is more effective than the old system of sending letters.
Prof Tubridy said almost 20pc of patients referred via Neurolink did not need a neurology outpatient appointment.
"Without Neurolink these patients would have been allocated an outpatient slot. Over 3,100 new patients are seen in the neurology clinics in St Vincent's annually.
"Neurolink, therefore has the potential to make an additional 610 new clinic slots available each year," he said.
He told the 'Irish Medical Journal' that there was a "natural concern" over missing a serious condition.
"GPs are advised to re-refer patients if symptoms or signs change and a neurology outpatient appointment is arranged urgently," he said.