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Prestigious award for Waikato DHB rheumatology referral project

Doug White and wife Catherine with the project's Ko Awatea Award at the presentation dinner

Photo: Project leader Dr Douglas White and his wife Catherine with the project’s Ko Awatea Award at the presentation dinner.

The Douglas White led Waikato rheumatology electronic referral / triage project was a winner at the Ko Awatea International Excellence in Health Improvement Awards last night.

The project won the Assuring Quality of Healthcare Standards category.

The award was presented at the gala dinner of the international APAC Forum held in Auckland, which is a premier Asia Pacific health conference managed by Ko Awatea.

Dr White is a consultant rheumatologist at Waikato Hospital and honorary senior lecturer with the Waikato Clinical School, University of Auckland.

He says the project was led by clinicians in response to an issue they had identified in practice.

“The problem we faced was an inconsistency in the way referrals from GPs to specialists were being handled by our service,” he says. “The solution we developed is a system that has three questions that the GP should complete with the patient and three questions that the triaging specialist completes. Receiving good information in the beginning allowed us to make better decisions, and implementing our system electronically has reduced the turnaround time from five days to one day.”

He says the effect is that patients are receiving better care, sooner and within the existing resources.

Dr Ray Naden, who was part of the project team, describes it as “a very special project.”

“It is truly rare to see such a complete solution to a major system problem. It is a great tribute to the whole diverse team of people who have contributed, and continue to contribute, to the successful outcome – for patients especially – in so many ways.

“We couldn’t have done it without great leadership. A number of people have contributed to this too, but I have rarely come across someone with Doug White’s quiet determination and organisation combined with a way of engaging us all as a team.”

An animated presentation of the project developed with Dr Douglas White by Waikato DHB Media and Communications staff was used as part of the award nomination and can be viewed here.

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