March 24th, 2021

// Leaders in digital health: St. Joe’s partners with the Ontario eServices Program to enhance patient experiences through eReferral

Leaders in digital health: St. Joe's partners with the Ontario eServices Program to enhance patient experiences through eReferral

HAMILTON, ON, March 23, 2021 /CNW/ - St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH) continues to showcase leadership in digital technology through the introduction of eReferral to facilitate smoother transitions in care among healthcare providers and enhance patient experiences. 

In partnership with the Ontario eServices Program, SJHH has led the successful integration of CognisantMD's Ocean Platform and the Epic Health Information System to offer eReferral. 

The transition to eReferral offers a number of benefits for both clinicians and patients, all of which contribute to the improved provider and patient experience within the healthcare system. Benefits include the following:

  • Patients are better informed regarding the status of their appointments and have the ability to confirm these appointments electronically. 
  • Pre-populated forms for the patient chart on the referring end, ensuring up-to-date patient information is received, such as medication lists and allergies. 
  • Access to wait time information through the searchable, map-based Ocean Healthmap directory. 
  • Receiving complete referrals, eliminating the need to request additional information from the referrer and speeding up wait times. 
  • Reduction in reminder phone calls to patients with automated patient alerts. 
  • Elimination of faxes or phone calls to referring providers informing them of the appointment status.

The integration leverages Substitutable Medical Applications, Reusable Technologies (SMART) on Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) technology. SMART on FHIR is the most recent worldwide standard of secure data transfer for health care technology, specifically addressing the need to share and protect personal health information (PHI).

Phase one of the integration, which is currently live, allows end users to launch the Ocean eReferral platform directly from within the Epic Health Information System with single sign on (SSO). Single sign on allows users to launch and use Ocean from within EPIC, without having to log in to Ocean each time. Launching Ocean directly out of Epic allows hospital staff to interact with the referral without leaving their native system and preserves full access to Ocean functionality.

In the coming weeks, the Ocean and Epic integration will not only allow users to access inbound referrals (e.g. from primary care to hospital), it will also allow referrals from Epic to be sent to external destinations (e.g. specialists or community organizations such as Home and Community Care). The full integration consists of two phases: 

  • Phase one: SSO and inbound and outbound referrals received using SMART on FHIR Ocean launch. 
  • Phase two: Inbound referrals directly into EPIC HIS, including automated order generation and outgoing notifications supported through scalable middleware.

With the support of the Ontario eServices Program, which is funded by the Ministry of Health, full end-to-end digital workflow is scheduled for completion by the end of Spring 2021. 

Phase two will include the elimination of manual transcription and will drive an increase in accurate referral status updates being passed back to the referring provider. Appointment information will also be updated directly from the health information system into Ocean, eliminating the duplicate entry of this information into Ocean and ensuring that patients receive timely and accurate information and reminders about their appointments.

SJHH is proud to be working with the Ontario eServices Program to bring the industry this ground-breaking integration with Epic. In collaboration with the Ontario eServices Program, SJHH is working on plans to scale this integration, once fully realized. This includes the development and dissemination of implementation guides, webinars etc. The eServices Program works with a variety of Ontario vendors including the consortium of Think Research, CognisantMD and Centre for Effective Practice.

Improvements in digital technology are key to improving the patient experience, and SJHH is excited to be leading this ongoing innovation.  For more information on eReferral, contact the Ontario eServices Program at

Additional information:

About St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton
St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH) is a leading research and academic health science centre located in the heart of Hamilton, Ontario. It is a pioneer of the Integrated Comprehensive Care model, a leader in patient-centred care, and a major provider of mental health and addiction services, respiratory care and kidney care, in addition to other acute care, surgical and outpatient services at its three distinct sites. St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, a proud member of St. Joseph's Health System, is a teaching hospital affiliated with the world-renowned McMaster University. For more information about St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, please visit

About the Ontario eServices Program 
The Ontario eServices Program delivers digital services (eConsult and eReferral are the first initiatives in the scope of the program) that support clinical workflows and facilitate smoother transitions in care and an improved patient experience. The Ontario eServices Program is co-led by the Ontario eConsult Centre of Excellence (eConsult COE) and the eHealth Centre of Excellence (eCE) and is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health (MOH).  

About CognisantMD 
CognisantMD is Canada's leading provider of EMR-integrated patient engagement and eReferral solutions, built on the secure, cloud-based Ocean Platform. Ocean integrates with the nation's leading electronic medical records systems, provincial resources, and other digital health solutions to allow patients, healthcare providers, and systems to securely share and exchange patient health information. By replacing outdated, fax-based technology with EMR-integrated eReferrals, the Ocean eReferral Network is helping to reduce wait times and improve access to care. Ocean's full suite of integrated patient engagement tools is also helping improve digital access for patients, increase access to primary care, and support virtual care across Canada. To learn more, visit   

SOURCE CognisantMD


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