By the same authors

From the same journal

An electronic referral system supporting integrated hospital discharge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Mark Wilberforce
  • Jane Hughes
  • Paul Clarkson
  • David Whyte
  • Helen Chester
  • Sue Davies
  • David Challis


Publication details

JournalJournal of Integrated Care
DateAccepted/In press - 25 Nov 2016
DatePublished (current) - 18 Apr 2017
Issue number2
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)99-109
Original languageEnglish


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the implementation and potential value of an electronic referral system to improve integrated discharge planning for hospitalised older adults with complex care needs. This new technology formed part of the "Common Assessment Framework for Adults" policy in England. Design/methodology/approach - Mixed methods were undertaken as part of a case study approach within an acute hospital in the North West of England. First, qualitative interviews were undertaken with practitioners to explore early experiences using the new technology. Second, routinely collected administrative data were analysed, comparing referrals made using the new technology and those made through the usual paper-based process. Findings - Qualitative interviews found that an electronic discharge system has, in principle, the potential to improve the efficiency and suitability of integrated care planning. However, the implementation proved fragile to decisions taken elsewhere in the local care system, meaning its scope was severely curtailed in practice. Several "socio-technical" issues were identified, including the loss of valuable face-to-face communication by replacing manual with electronic referrals. Research limitations/implications - The small number of patients referred during the implementation phase meant that patient outcomes could not be definitively judged. Research into the longer-term implications and value of electronic referral systems is needed. Originality/value - There is concern that attempts to integrate health and social care are stymied by incompatible systems for recording service user information. This research explores a novel attempt to share assessment information and improve support planning across health and social care boundaries.

Bibliographical note

© 2017 Emerald Publishing Limited. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details

    Research areas

  • Community care assessment, Health and social care, Integrated care, Interagency working, Management of change, Multi-disciplinary teamwork

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