Welsh GPs are sending 50% of outpatient referrals electronically.
A statement from NHS Wales Informatics Service says the move towards digital communication is saving millions annually.
Around 650,000 hospital referrals are sent by Welsh GPs each year.
About 50% of referrals –7,000 a week - are now being sent via the Welsh Clinical Communications Gateway and 95% of Wales’ 470 GP practices are using the online service.
As the percentage of referrals sent by paper continues to fall and the range of clinical messages carried by the gateway rises, increased savings are expected.
Dr Martin Murphy, clinical director for NHS Wales Informatics Service, said the cost benefit of sending referrals electronically was nearly £4 per transaction.
He said the money saved would be reinvested into patient care.
“Studies have shown that around 2% of hospital referrals get lost in transit, increasing patient waiting times and administrative costs,” explained Dr Murphy.
Several Welsh hospitals have also implemented electronic discharges to GPs.
Aneurin Bevan Health Board sends around 5,000 e-discharges each month. NHS Wales plans to make e-discharges available to all health boards.
“This really is an example of how technology can improve efficiency and deliver a better service,” said Dr Murphy.
Other future benefits are to include the integration with NHS Wales’ national Myrddin patient administration system, which is already live at most health boards.
This will allow electronic workflow to the consultant and the prioritisation of referral letters.
© 2013 EHealth Media.