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Email triage for new neurological outpatient referrals: what the customers think
  1. V Patterson1,
  2. C Donaghy2,
  3. L Loizou3
  1. 1Centre for Online Health, Brisbane, Australia
  2. 2Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, UK
  3. 3Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Victor Patterson
 Teleneurology, 1st Floor Education Centre, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast BT12 6BA, UK; tele.neuro{at}

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When patients with neurological symptoms are referred to a neurologist by their general practitioner (GP), the neurologist acquires two customers—the patient and the GP. If the neurologist plans to introduce a new or changed service it would be considered good practice to seek the opinion of the people using the service—the customers. Such an approach is commonplace in other walks of life, but is rarely used in medicine.

We used this approach when considering changing from a letter-based referral system for new referrals to one based on email. Email can be used to triage referred patients into those who need to be seen in a clinic and those who can be managed without entering the clinic system, either by investigations or by simply offering advice. This approach has been used successfully for general medical patients in Finland1 and we have shown that in neurological practice this novel method is feasible, safe, sustainable and saves neurologists’ time.2,3 A similar system is being introduced within parts of the UK National …

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  • Competing interests: None.