RIVIAM meets MP Norman Lamb at EHI Live who calls for better quality in referral letters

13/06/2018 14:35

In November 2016 RIVIAM had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Norman Lamb on mental health at EHI Live.

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk, former Minister for Social Care, is a passionate campaigner who wants to see changes in mental health support especially after personally witnessing the difficulties in getting mental health treatment for his close family members.

In his presentation, Norman Lamb highlighted the hurdles that mental health patients have to overcome in order to get appropriate treatment. A major hurdle that Norman Lamb pointed out is the inadequate referral letters that some GPs generate.

Inadequate referral letters inhibit fast treatment

Usually, a patient’s pathway starts with their GP, who then raises a referral to a mental health service. Most GPs are under immense pressure and many are unable to spend the time required to complete referrals thoroughly and consistently, causing many referral letters to lack essential information.

The result of this is that sometimes there isn’t enough information to make a good assessment of the patient’s need. Either the patient is placed into a first appointment for the wrong service or a the lengthy process of requesting more information starts with the GP. This not only increases the treatment waiting times for mental health patients but also causes extra delays as in some cases patients have to repeat their medical history when seeing a mental health specialist.

Extra delays and continuously repeating medical history can have a very negative impact on a patient’s mental health and often causes them to give up before receiving their essential treatment.

Norman Lamb recognised the enormous potential of IT in supporting people with mental ill health and regularly calls on the mental health industry to make use of innovative technology.

He stated “we must be able to record digitally the moment when the referral is made, the moment when treatment starts, the journey through that treatment, and the outcomes achieved”1.

At EHI Live, Norman Lamb in particular highlighted the implementation of the latest technology for referral services which should focus on collecting the right information at the beginning of the referral process. Collecting the right information digitally not only reduces waiting times, it also prevents further difficulty and hardship for patients.

Live usage of digital referral letters

We at RIVIAM, are in complete agreement with Norman Lamb’s view and are proud that our innovative referral services deliver exactly what he promotes. Our Secure Portals are configurable micro websites which present an organisation’s patient referral form in a standardised manner. For instance, in collaboration with our customer, Simplify Health, we developed bespoke referral forms containing all the necessary questions for a quick referral.

Simplify Health is a coordinator of mental health care, providing a single point of access. Referrers need to complete required fields in order to be able to send referral forms to the Access Centres. Thus, a full set of information is collected and data completeness is ensured helping mental health patients access faster treatment.

Further, RIVIAM’s Secure Referral Forms enable a broad range of referrers, including patients, social workers and school nurses to make referrals quickly and efficiently. In doing so, the usual mental health patient pathway no longer needs to start with a local GP.

As we place the highest standard on security, patient data is encrypted at all times, meeting NHS requirements. We constantly develop our referral management services in order keep up with our vision of improving people’s lives.

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