PCTI, who supply document management and filing software to general practice, have released an update to their software that promises to speed up the transfer of letters between consultants and GPs by automatically transferring and filing correspondence.

The electronic document transfer (EDT) system, PCTI, piloted the update to their system in Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport, Cheshire, and in two local GP practices. In the system, letters from hospital consultants are uploaded to a central document server, and overnight each practice polls the server and picks up the documents.

“When the practice retrieves its documents, the system automatically identifies and distributes them for filing into the patient’s clinical record,” explained director of PCTI, Philip Young. “They can then be sent to everyone who needs to see them, like the GP and practice nurse for instance."

Angela Wales, practice manager of Sett Valley Medical Centre, in New Mills, Derbyshire, one of the practices that participated in the pilot, said that the system had improved her workflow. “Previously we had to scan all incoming mail and manually file it onto our computerised system," she said.

The EDT system “means that one of our patients cold be seen at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust in the afternoon, return to us for a follow-up appointment the next morning and we would have all their up-to-date notes… Not only are patient treatment times speeded up, but the amount of time they have to worry while waiting for results is reduced."

According to PCTI, the trust sends 40,000 documents every month to GPs. The reason why the software is an improvement on email, according to Phil Young, is that on the hospital’s side, the documents do not have to be attached and sent individually, and on the practice’s side, each letter can be automatically filed and attached to a patient record.

It is hoped that the software, which has been designed to integrate with existing infrastructure, will cut administrative burdens and improve communications.

Ian Curr (left), Online Services Manager, Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport and Phil Young, Director, PCTI.

Ian Curr (left), Online Services Manager, Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport and Phil Young, Director, PCTI.