Wandsworth Council

by Admin on June 22, 2016

In 2012, ReferAll was tasked with creating a software hub to assist with the running of the Footsteps for Health service in Wandsworth.  This umbrella service commissions lifestyle services for patients via GPs using a single form to refer their patients to a central hub.  The aim was to improve the services for everyone involved and, looking to the future, the council was keen to move away from paper referral towards electronic referral. 

Matt Robinson, Health Living Project Officer – Footsteps, explained: “Prior to using ReferAll, it was clear that our service needed professionalising.  It was ad hoc.  We could look at the number of referrals and where they had come from but had no other information.  ReferAll’s software gave us access to way more information at the touch of a button.”

ReferAll specialises in software solutions to enhance the efficiency of exercise referrals from GPs to leisure providers.   The company offers a fast and efficient referral pathway for Exercise on Referral schemes from GPs via an online form. The referral from the GP appears instantly on the leisure provider’s dashboard, from where they can use ReferAll’s software solution to move the patient through their service, setting target dates and recording actions completed against the referral, such as contacting the patient and booking appointments, for example, via a task bar. The integrated system also provides the leisure provider with information about where the referrals come from. 

Initially the full system was used purely by the Health Trainers, with other lifestyle services simply viewing it to see the numbers of referrals.  Additional services, such as weight management, were then subsequently added to the system, with four strands for different populations, adults, new mums, children and toddlers, via different service providers.

Matt Robinson commented: “Flexibility within the system was crucial, with different lifestyle services using ReferAll to suit their needs.  The system hub also gave us a central point of contact for referrers, patients and the services.  Throughout ReferAll’s tenure the system has been constantly evolving.  We regularly feedback to them with developments, modifications and customisation to meet our needs.”

Two years later, in March 2014, with the Exercise on Referral and specialist activity services now under the jurisdiction of Wandsworth Council, the decision was made to phase out paper based exercise referrals for these services.  ReferAll, again, won the tender to provide specialist software solutions for this and to assist Wandsworth Council to stitch its public health function together.

Matt Robinson said: “Inevitably with any awarding of contracts, value for money is top of the list and this tender was no exception.  That said, we also had to be clear about what any system could offer and how we could bring other services on board.  ReferAll was able to offer us all those reassurances.”

Exercise on Referral and the specialist activity services are operated by People for Places on behalf of Wandsworth Council, with ReferAll’s software working across six of borough’s leisure centres at Balham, Latchmere, Putney, Tooting, Wandle and Roehampton Sport & Fitness Centre.

The benefits of ReferAll’s software solutions for staff at Wandsworth Council have been manifold.

Matt Robinson commented: “ReferAll helps with the management of referrals, with tracking and also strategically, as we can see how the different services fit into the whole scheme, the whole patient intervention.  It is also really helpful for the lifestyle services to see how the patients use a wide range of services.  When I am asked to report on referral ‘traffic’, I can see the targets for each service and have the capability to track these.  This creates a targeted approach in terms of intervention and good demographic information that we can act on.” 

He continued: “One of the challenges, in terms of data, is that it is constantly changing.  However, with ReferAll’s system, our data is always up to date and this allows us to be focused and efficient for the patients ensuring that we know who has been called, when they were called and what service they are using. The data from ReferAll’s system is very detailed so we can see a wide range of information including how many referrals we gain from an NHS Health Check, which lifestyles services are referring, which aren’t and why they aren’t.  This helps us to build up a bigger picture.”

Patients are also benefiting.  Matt Robinson said: “Sometimes it is hard for patients to know who is contacting them as the differentiation between Exercise on Referral isn’t always fully explained or understood.  ReferAll enables GPs to give patients a receipt which clearly shows them which services will be contacting them and their contact details.  This means that they can contact the lifestyle service direct, rather than having to recontact their GP.  Furthermore, during any appointments, the lifestyle services can see other appointments with other services so there is a complete view of patient care, which can only be of benefit for the patient.”

Although the electronic Exercise on Referral scheme has seen clear advantages for patients, the benefits of moving from paper to an electronic system referral system have been less clear for many GPs. 

Matt Robinson explained: “GPs were accustomed to working with a paper system so, initially, it appears more complex to use the electronic referral system.  Looking to the future, it is clear that the electronic system is a proactive solution, which will provide enhanced data and information for GPs.  This includes tracking of patients and the ability to see how the referral progresses, putting the patient’s needs at the heart of the referral system.  Since March 2014, the focus for the council has been registering GPs so that they can refer electronically and encouraging them to use the system.”

Additional innovations on ReferAll’s software solution include an integrated and automated text service, which sends SMS messages to patients to remind them about their initial, six week and six month assessments, as well as targeted motivational messages to boost retention.  This service is currently being used by the Exercise on Referral scheme.

Commenting on ReferAll, Matt Robinson said: “As a company, ReferAll are very responsive and keen to help.  They are happy to respond to any queries, no matter how trivial they might appear.”

Since April 2012, Wandsworth’s Health Trainer service, and more recently, the Exercise on Referral scheme, have seen around 3,000 referrals using ReferAll’s software system. 

Topics: Health Trainers, Testimonial