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eReferrals for Patients: What to Expect

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Nova Scotia uses an electronic referral (eReferrals) tool to manage and coordinate referrals for surgery, magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) and ultrasounds. This model is part of our efforts to improve access to the services that Nova Scotians' need.

Rather than sending referrals directly to a specific surgeon or a Diagnostic Imaging (DI) site, your primary care provider or surgeon can access our eReferrals tool which allows them to quickly and easily refer you for a surgical consult or Diagnostic Imaging service.

If you choose to provide an email address, you can also automatically get emails to update you on the status of your referral.

For surgery consults:

Your healthcare provider has two options:

  1. They can send a referral to our central intake team who will direct the referral based on your needs and wishes. For example, you might prefer to receive care close to home or may be willing to travel to receive care sooner.  

  2. If you prefer to see a specific surgeon your health care provider also has the option to pick a surgeon from an up-to-date directory.

For Diagnostic Imaging requests:

Your healthcare provider will refer you to our Provincial Queue for Diagnostic Imaging Services to be directed to a Diagnostic Imaging site. Your provider will be able to note if you have a preferred site that you wish to receive care or if you are willing to travel to receive care sooner.

The launch of electronic referrals is a commitment within government’s Action for Health Plan and supports overall efforts to improve access to surgical and Diagnostics Imaging services for Nova Scotians. Primary care providers, surgeons and Diagnostic Imaging teams are now using the tool to support referrals to these services and other services and healthcare providers are also expected to be added over time.

All referrals pass through the Central Intake Office or Diagnostic Imaging Provincial Queue to ensure they are complete and directed to the right care provider or team. This can help prevent delays and lead to faster care for patients.

How eReferrals help patients

Our old referral methods, including paper-based referrals, can get lost, be incomplete, difficult to read or go to the wrong provider. eReferrals are digital and secure. They can help prevent delays and help patients get more timely access to care.  You can also be kept more up to date about the status of your referral by providing an email address and agreeing to receive automatic notifications.

If you consent, you can expect to automatically receive emails when:

  1. Your referral is sent by your healthcare provider

  2. An anticipated wait time to appointment is added

  3. Your appointment is booked (including details on the appointment date and time)

  4. You may also receive an appointment reminder in advance of your scheduled appointment with additional details.

You can also confirm your appointment through the appointment email notification you receive.

I got an email confirming my son’s appointment the same day my doctor sent it. Within a couple of days, we had an appointment time. It was all very quick and gave me peace of mind that it was being handled. It worked like a charm.

Mary Ellen Rainey, mother of IWK Health patient

Read Mary Ellen's Story

I’m an operations guy, and see the eReferrals system as innovative. It’s an opportunity to make better use of the resources that we have in the province. This will save people’s lives.

Craig Maclaren, surgical patient and director of operations for a food services company

Read Craig's Story

Common Patient Questions