Patients will have greater control over when and where they are referred for treatment by April this year, say the Department of Health.
They add that free choice makes it important for healthcare providers to understand the needs and wants of GP clinics that make secondary care referrals.
Hospitals and clinics will also be encouraged to advertise their services in order to raise awareness of choice and to help patients make informed decisions about their choice of provider.
Minister for Health Services Ben Bradshaw said: “Choice is fundamental to the delivery of a personalised NHS. People would like to have more control and be more involved in the decisions about their illness and treatment.
“More choice will also help drive up quality and standards across the NHS.”
Patient Jack Lester added: “Choice was important for my wife and I as it meant we had an opinion on local hospitals. We were able to choose the one which could see us soonest and was still close to home.
“The standards of treatment and attention were very high, gave us peace of mind and made a real difference.”