Ten Lessons from our First 10,000 E-Referrals

Celebrating our 10,000th e-referral


In the summer of 2016, we saw our first referral go through the ConsultLoop platform. At the time, it felt like a huge milestone because it made this platform real. We had spent many months planning, sketching, listening, building, refining, and of course worrying, but finally, we had a product, and we were starting to help patients. As three doctors working in family medicine and emergency medicine, this has been at the core of our company mission and remains that way to this day. Help patients, and help doctors and their staff help patients.

We had many exciting moments where we felt encouraged in our mission. We knew the importance of what we were doing, but having the support of colleagues meant a lot in those early days. We were thrilled when we saw our platform “work” – prevent lost referrals, save time and phone calls, reduce wait times, and improve the patient experience. At the same time, there were moments when we were humbled by the complexity involved in building a pan-provincial e-referral platform. There were clinics we needed to work harder to serve, and in some cases we were successful, in others we were not. Even in those failures, we learned, and we could certainly see that the biggest leaps in our product, as well as in our business, have come from those learning moments.

This week, we reached a new milestone as we have processed our 10,000th e-referral. To us, this is a huge milestone in that we know we have built a stable, useful platform, and that alongside it is our amazing directory of 5,000 Ontario specialists with key info such as wait times, scope of practice and language information. We are also seeing our usage data get richer and more comprehensive, which is exciting for the math nerds in our midst. We look at the opportunities ahead of us in growing our network through awesome new features that better connect our healthcare system, reducing work, eliminating friction, and making it a better experience for all involved.

We built ConsultLoop to address key problems for patients navigating the healthcare system. First, it’s too hard to navigate wait times and find the right specialist. Second, too many referrals get lost, which is unacceptable given today’s technology. Third, too much time is spent on the phone notifying patients, calling other offices. Today, we look squarely at these three problems and know we are solving them for our clients and their patients, and that we are well-positioned to solve it for the province, if not the country, as our mission expands.

We will learn a lot more as we continue on our journey, but we’re happy to share the top ten lessons from our first 10,000 e-referrals:


  1. Our healthcare system is rich with people – docs and admins – who want to do good for patients.
  2. Clarifying our values made it easier to face key business decisions.
  3. Technology is opening up many new possibilities –  the status quo cannot be defended.
  4. In a complex ecosystem, many things will be outside your control. Find workarounds.
  5. A good, reasoned “no” provides more more valuable lessons than a casual “yes”.
  6. Health tech should still help patients who cannot use it, and should improve, not worsen equity.
  7. It’s vital to provide immediately available, human customer service.
  8. People should want to use your product. If anything is forced, it’s not good enough.
  9. Our “product” is really a commitment to solve a specific problem, no matter what or how.
  10. No matter how far we’ve come, there’s always much more ahead.

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