Northern Health switches to electronic HealthLink forms for GP referrals to Specialist Clinics

  27 August 2020  Northern Health   |   Third party content – view disclaimer

This article originally appeared in the August 2020 edition of the Northern Health GP newsletter.

Northern Health is pleased to announce that, after a highly successful two-year trial with HealthLink, their Specialist Clinics have switched to HealthLink SmartForms as the standard platform for accepting GP referrals.

“Our specialist outpatient clinics receive hundreds of referrals every day,” says Chrissy Nicolaidis, Operations Manager.

“Over 200 GPs from more than 130 general practices in the Northern Health catchment are regularly transmitting referrals from their desktop to our specialist clinics, completely eliminating the need to print off and fax.”

HealthLink SmartForms are widely used across Victoria and are available for GPs using Medical Director, Best Practice and Genie software. The electronic transmission has been proven to be highly reliable compared to fax. The key benefits GPs have cited include:

Immediate confirmation of a successful transmission

Once a GP clicks SEND on the HealthLink SmartForm, a notification appears on the screen to let the GP know the referral was successfully transmitted, a significantly quicker turnaround time to fax transmissions.

Easy-to-use SmartForm

GPs are guided step-by-step through the form to ensure key content is included, which helps them meet (and exceed) the minimum requirements of DHHS’s new Statewide Referral Criteria. This in turn improves their chances of not having a referral stall while waiting for additional information, or even worse, having their referral rejected.

Rapid triage leading to quicker appointment scheduling

As electronic referrals are transmitted in real time, GPs who use HealthLink SmartForms are facilitating quicker triage by Northern Health Specialist Clinics, meaning patients can be contacted for appointments sooner.

“Unfortunately, we are still seeing some GPs sending referrals by fax” says Chris Daniel, GP Support at Northern Health Specialist Clinics. “Fax transmission is highly unreliable and we have seen many instances where we have received pages of a referral that are blank or unreadable. The referrals are missing critical clinical content originally included by the GP. With different fax configurations and telephony gateways making the problem more complex, GPs are now in the enviable position of avoiding all this by adopting a technology that is already at their fingertips – sending electronic referrals directly from their desktop.”

Fax referrals will still be available for the 10 per cent of general practices which are unable to use HealthLink SmartForms.

For more information about how you can send your patients to Northern Health Specialist Clinics using HealthLink SmartForms, please contact Christopher Daniel, GP Support at Northern Health Specialist Clinics on 0400 449 922 or email

Alternatively, contact the Primary Health Care Improvement Team at North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network on 03 9347 1188 or email

Disclaimer: This article was provided by Northern Health. While every effort has been made to ensure the information is accurate, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network does not warrant or represent the accuracy, currency and completeness of any information or material included within.