[Birmingham, UK/ Implementations] - University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) is on target to achieving 20,000 electronic document transfers a month to local GP practices after two years of developing its electronic document hub. The project, started in 2010 along with the development of a clinical portal, is part of the Trust′s strategy to become ′paper light′ and to meet the Department of Health′s 24-hour discharge summary turnaround target.
The hub is currently sending digitally dictated letters, in-patient and day case discharge letters, A&E discharge letters, and other patient correspondence to GP practices in the area. The hub is able to collect from multiple message streams, enabling GP practices to receive from multiple document sources in the Trust or from neighbouring trusts. The electronic documents contain filing data so that the letters can quickly enter a workflow, which minimises the actions required to process them in the GP practices. Discharge letters are completed before a patient is discharged and some practices are collecting documents from the hub every 15 minutes, which means that a GP could be reading the patient letter before the patient has even reached the lift to exit the Hospital.
GP practices now do not need to call the hospital to find out information that previously they might have had to chase because of delays with a paper and postal system. Practices can reject documents sent to them in error. This provides the option for UHB to receive the letter back, improve data quality and send letters to the correct place. Letters can be quickly directed to the right place and a full audit trail is visible to see where any letter is in the process.
Time and cost savings
For UHB, there is now no need for printing and folding letters into envelopes, while GP practices do not need to scan, print or manually file documents. This is estimated to save administrators up to 50 seconds per letter and up to an hour of staff time daily for a GP practice.
Dean Grinham, IT Head of Programme Delivery, said, “The cost of sending paper to GP practices at a minimum is 50p per item, without taking into account paper, envelopes, printing, and the time to do this process means that the Trust could save a minimum of £10,000 each month.”
Sam Allington, Practice Manager at Bournbrook Varsity Medical Centre, said, “Letters are with our GPs immediately so we know they have an up to date record of the patient and there is no need to query letters or waste time trying to track information. The patient can be in quickly after leaving the hospital and the clinicians know the practice will have the letter immediately, so it results in an improved service.” [hw]