Website aims to modernize specialist referral system

A new medical website aims to end the old-fashioned system of using phone calls and faxes to refer patients to specialists.
Dr. Denis Vincent is the family physician behind ezReferral. (CBC )

A new medical website aims to end the old-fashioned system of using phone calls and faxes to refer patients to specialists.

EzReferral was developed by Dr. Denis Vincent, a family physician in Edmonton.

"People don't realize how much phoning and faxing we have to do to actually get patients in to see a specialist -- and we know faxing is very inaccurate," he said. " Faxes get sent all over the place and they get lost. They go into the same universe, I think, as lost socks in the dryer."

The website not only streamlines referrals between doctors and specialists. It also allows patients to keep track of the process.

David Price said the site might have saved his son Greg, who died three days after having surgery for testicular cancer in 2012.  

Greg Price waited for weeks to see a specialist. When he called his doctor to check on progress, he was told the referral had gone through. It turns out the referral had been lost.

Price's cancer was aggressive and fast-moving. After contacting the walk-in clinic, Price was told he had to call the urologist's office directly.

David Price believes his son may still be alive if he had received faster treatment for an aggressive form of testicular cancer. (CBC )
When he did, he found out the specialist was out of the office for three weeks. Price had to call the walk-in clinic again, which referred him to another urologist.

According to a report done on his case by the Health Quality Council of Alberta, Price ended up waiting two months for a specialist after it was determined his cancer was serious.

"Every day counts," Price's father David said. "In his case, had he not had all that time wasted, we think the outcome would have been different. We think he would be with us today."

Vincent's website is still in its early stages with 200 referrals made so far.

The pilot project was funded by the Edmonton South Side Primary Care Network

Ten more clinics have joined the service bringing the total to 23 in Alberta.


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