A large teaching hospital was receiving 50% more referrals than it had capacity for. The commissioner wanted to make better use of local services in the community to reduce the pressure and offer a better choice to patients.
Vantage worked with local dentists, hospital consultants and commissioners to agree referral guidelines (known as pathways). The guidelines were added to the Dental Electronic Referral Service (DERS) software. DERS was then made available to all referring dentists, and linked to their practice software to avoid duplicating patient information.
Dentists were only asked pertinent questions so as not to waste their time. This information together with the details from their patient record and information from NHS central records were used to give the referrer an appropriate choice of service. This list included the distances from the patient’s home and estimated waiting times. Once a choice was made the referral was sent directly to the chosen provider to book an appointment.
Demand for hospital service reduced by 1/3rd within 3 months of the service going live. These patients are now being treated in the community often much sooner that a hospital appointment. Utilisation by referring dentists is close to 100%.
DERS has since been commissioned for the entire region.