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A new secure paperless referral system at Cabrini Health


The referral workflow at Cabrini Health has been transformed by Telstra Health Secure Messaging, formerly known as Argus.

Moving from paper to paperless can seem an insurmountable task. But improving patient care and communication, and mitigating risk are compelling reasons to make the shift, and easy-to-use technology makes all the difference.

Cabrini Health Australia is a Catholic, not-for-profit healthcare service based in Victoria with a mission to help those most in need. The organisation recently replaced its outdated paper-based referral system with the Allied Health Centre eReferral Program powered by Telstra Health Secure Messaging.

GPs can now easily refer patients to Cabrini via the letter writing function of their clinical software. The sensitive patient information within the referral is securely encrypted before being delivered and decrypted by the recipient.The system can be used to send and receive a wide variety of sensitive patient information including operation reports and discharge letters.

Cameron Barnes, Director of Health Information Services and Information Governance at Cabrini, oversaw implementation of the solution. According to Cameron there were numerous business advantages associated with implementing the secure messaging solution.

“Health can lag in uptake of current technologies, let alone something that's a little cutting edge, so I wanted to get on board,” Mr Barnes says. “The vision has been about speed and legibility of health information being available at the bedside, as well as remotely for all users of the health information.”

From paper to paperless

“The old system was the usual cumbersome process, reliant on fax machines, hard copy and phone calls,” Mr Barnes says. “This presented challenges in terms of eligibility and inefficiencies in the hard copy environment, not to mention privacy risks.”

Replacing this traditional, ineffective paper referral system with an entirely paperless process has greatly improved the healthcare service’s workflow, by creating a central repository where documents are contained and stored. Importantly, it adheres to Australian privacy laws.

“We can have multiple people using the information in a really timely manner, which has cut down inefficiencies that were inherent in our systems. It’s an advantage for my staff, clinical staff, GPs and the provisioning medical officers, of which we have more than a thousand,” Mr Barnes says.

Besides greater efficiency and improved patient care, the program has also seen a reduction in costs for health practitioners using the system.

“You’re able to move toward a paperless environment, which brings cost savings as well as other advantages. It’s such a good innovation,” Mr Barnes says. “It’s well worth taking up the option of Secure Messaging.”

Benefits for patients and health practitioners

According to Mr Barnes, implementing the Secure Messaging system has enhanced communication across the service, knowledge sharing, accuracy of patient identification and appropriate service allocation, while minimising privacy risks.

 “All of these improvements add value and benefit for the patient and ensures they have the best possible experience when they visit Cabrini or any other health service along the line,” he says. “Most patients want to know their information is available to the health professionals who need it, in a timely manner.”

“GPs associated with Cabrini can sometimes feel a little left out of the loop because our major customers are Visiting Medical Officers (VMOs). This system gives them another way of contacting Cabrini so that we can bring them a little bit more into the fold,” Mr Barnes says.

Technology you can trust

 “As far as the risks associated with electronic storage of information, we've been working collaboratively with Argus and Telstra Health for about five years now. Having the right vendor that you are happy and comfortable working with mitigates the risks. You obviously must have the right technology driving it, so you’re also comfortable the software and systems do what they’re supposed to do,” Mr Barnes says.

“It’s an excellent system with a lot of capacity for referral sources and our health care providers. Most importantly, it improves the experience for our  patients, who are our primary concern.”

Telstra Health Secure Messaging is secure, safe, fast and available for use now. To find out more about implementing it in your organisation, please call us on 1800 952 282. 



About Cameron Barnes

Cameron Barnes is the Director of Health Information Services and Information Governance at Cabrini Health. With over 25 year's experience in health management, he is curently the Project Director for an in and outbound secure messaging system and partnership focused on data cleansing, remediation and monitoring; the first of its kind in health in Australia and New Zealand.

If you are part of the Cabrini Allied Health Centre Network and want to find out more about the eReferral Program, please email or call (03) 9508 1700.