Information is critical to developing patient focussed relationships between general practitioners and hospital clinicians. HealthPathways provides a patient management system that ensures a smooth flow of information that enables clinicians to care for the patients more effectively.​

What is a referral?

A referral is the process of sending a patient form one practitioner to another for health care services. It usually involves sending information from one practitioner to another to assist the second practitioner in providing services as well as assisting the patient to access the next provider.

A referral is for a specific problem or condition and is usually made after assessment and for conditions that are beyond the scope of practice, or when the proposed treatment is not available within the service.

Referrals are also possible if patients or their family/whānau ​​ request a second opinion or treatment to be provided by another practitioner.

All health providers are obliged to explain to patients (and their parents/caregivers in the case of children) the options available for treatment, the pros and cons of those options. The choice of which option is followed remains with the patient, parents and caregivers.

Access to HealthPathways is restricted to health professionals responsible for referring to specialty services.

The Electronic Referral Management System (ERMS)

The Electronic Referral Management System (ERMS) has streamlined the referral process through the hospital system. ERMS ensures referrals are directed to the right place and the right care is delivered efficiently and appropriately.​

The ERMS has delivered:

  • Equity of access

  • Reduced the rejection rate

  • Reduced hospital follow up

  • Expanded diagnostics and options,

  • Ensured consistency of practice across departments

  • Expanded non-hospital referral options

  • Made the best use of time

  • Reduced waiting times.


  • The process of preparing, transmitting and acknowledging an appropriate referral has been streamlined.

  • Referrals are directed to the right place

  • General practitioners are informed about their referral practices relative to their peers

  • General practitioners, hospital specialists, and health planners and managers are informed about referral flows and pressure points, with a view to making optimal and ethical use of the limited health resources through information sharing, education, and process improvement.

  • Makes it possible to identify unmet need, and to optimally manage those patients that fall into this category.

  • Easier to action and streamline claiming processes and payment activities associated with certain types of referrals.​

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Page last reviewed: 08 September 2013