ERMS Celebrates 5 Million Referrals

A Christchurch patient requiring prompt referral from their GP for a knee x-ray was the 5 millionth ever referral via ERMS (Electronic Referral Management System).

That request was a vital step in getting the right care promptly for the patient – who represents the millions of New Zealanders who have benefited from the ERMS system over more than 15 years.

ERMS was developed in the early 2000s in a partnership between Pegasus Health and the Canterbury DHB to answer the clear clinical need for a more consistent, reliable and faster referral system, and provide a single point of referral to any part of the broader health system including community providers, and both public and private sectors. In 2010 ERMS was confirmed as the primary eReferral system for all five South Island health boards, and in late 2021 was adopted by the Whanganui DHB.

Dr Kim Lawson of ProMed Doctors in St Albans was the clinician who made the 5 millionth referral. She says that referral, like the hundreds of other ERMS referrals she has sent through was fast, easy and reliable.

“Our practice is an early adopter of technology that can help clinicians and patients, so we have been using ERMS for a long time. I joked that I probably sent at least 4 million of the 5 million referrals as it is an integral part of our practice. In the old days we used to fax or email through referrals and hope they got to the right place. With ERMS you know the referral has gone to the right place and the patient will get the right care as promptly as possible.”

ERMS Programme & Product Manager Joanna Jordan says the team is thrilled to share news of the significant milestone of 5 million referrals.

“We feel this milestone is very much worth celebrating because it reflects the vast number of patients who have benefited from the ERMS system. Professionals across the spectrum of the health system have also benefited from having a system that is easier and more reliable for them to use. From its inception, the system has been developed in partnership with senior primary and tertiary care professionals to ensure its usability and relevance for them and their clients.”

Chief Medical Officer for Te Whatu Ora - Waitaha Canterbury, Richard French, says they are pleased and proud to have been part of the ERMS success story.

“In principle it was a simple idea – to create an electronic system that ensured people didn’t get lost in the system. ERMS makes sure a request gets a response, helps protect patient privacy, and cuts waste out of the system by saving everyone’s time.”

“ERMS was designed by clinicians, for clinicians, which is why it is so extensively used both across the South Island and now in the North Island. A key component in its success is that requests can go to any part of the system, whether public or private, and can incorporate community as well as hospital-based services.”

Dr French says collaboration has been key to ERMS’ success, with Pegasus Health and other key DHB partners across the health system playing a major role.