SCA partners with Langs to launch referral system for orthopedic surgeons

New Langs logoThe Diabetes Regional Coordination Centre (DRCC), hosted by Langs Community Health Centre in Cambridge Ontario, was established in 2010 through the Ontario Diabetes Strategy, with a vision of improving access to diabetes care. As they began their work of coordinating diabetes care, through focus groups and an inventory of diabetes services, they discovered that primary care providers were finding it difficult to refer their patients to both diabetes education centres and specialists, either due to lack of awareness or long wait times. In 2011, they launched the diabetes central intake program.

“We developed one standardized regional form that can be embedded inside the clinician’s EMR and one place where they can send it. We take over from there,” explains the centre’s Regional Director, Debbie Hollahan.

When primary care providers fax the form, the centre gets back to them immediately to let them know that the form has been received, and they are contacted again when an appointment is booked.

Notes Hollahan: “Clinicians using this system love it. We’ve made it easier for them to make referrals and the communication piece has been fantastic.”

The central intake program also tracks each and every single patient along the way, and the database feature helps to eliminate duplication — which can lead to reduced wait times.

“The biggest benefit to centralized intake from a patient perspective is that no one gets lost in the system,” says Hollahan.

In 2013, the WWLHIN took over responsibility for the central intake aspect of DRCC, and Langs continued to host it under its new moniker: the Waterloo Wellington Diabetes Central Intake (WWDCI). As of June 2016, the program has processed over 23,000 referrals for services related to diabetes. Recently, the SCA program partnered with WWDCI to plan and operationalize a similar referral process for orthopedic surgeons, based on their success with diabetes referral. On May 16, central intake for orthopedic surgeons went live, and within the first week, there were over 200 requests from primary care providers who wanted the newly standardized referral form integrated into their EMRs.

Next steps include bringing more medical specialists into this referral process, and a new name for WWDCI that reflects their expanding service model — the Regional Coordination Centre (RCC). While it is not mandatory to use the RCC to make referrals, Hollahan emphasizes that it is all part of building a more collaborative health care system — one that promotes better communication between primary care, specialists, and patients.

Says one primary care physician: “This new referral system is fantastic.”

For the time being, the RCC uses fax to manage referrals. However, the RCC and the SCA program are currently working with system partners to develop an electronic referral system that will bring this referral process and others into a shared environment (hub). Think Research Consortium, an Ontario-based consortium of Think Research, CognisantMD, and the Centre for Effective Practice, has been chosen to design this new system.  For more information, please click here. A Proof of Concept (POC) is soon to be underway.

For more information or to participate in the POC working group, contact SCA Program Manager Lori Moran at or (226) 336-9885 x 227.