NHS Herefordshire will connect another 76 GP practices to its electronic document transfer hub and expands its use to include maternity and A&E documentation, taking the total to 100.

The new electronic document system is reducing the time taken to transfer documents and discharge summaries to GP practices to a day, down from a week for paper documents.

The primary care trust first deployed PCTI’s EDT Hub in 2008, using it to deliver electronic discharge summaries and electronic radiology reports to 24 GP practices.

The PCT now aims to connect a further 76 practices to the hub, which will cover another 70,000 patients.

Steven Fortey, application development team leader for Hoople, which provides IT services to Herefordshire PCT, said the trust planned to integrate maternity birth notifications, clinical decision unit documents and A&E admission related documents with the hub over the next few months.

“Our next aim is to review the EDT Hub two-way document transfer facility, so that communication is streamlined, and we can communicate efficiently to reduce the length of stays in the hospital by having the right information and the right people in place when needed,” he said.

“The aim is to put as much as we can through the hub because the majority of our GPs want to send information to us electronically. We are also looking at the use of Docman referral management service in the trust to manage these incoming letters.”

A PCTI spokesman said Docman RMS enables trusts to manage incoming referrals electronically whether received through the post, fax, choose and book or email.

“They can then workflow the letters electronically and have instant access to them and with a complete audit trail,” he said.

A further planned phase of the Herfordshire project will be to connect the trusts’ digital dictation system to the hub in a further step towards it becoming paper-free.

Digital dictation specialist, Dictate IT, is used across the trust to create the letter which will arrive via a feed into the hub and then be delivered to the correct GP practice.

Fortey said the previous paper method of sending documents would take up to a week to reach the GP practice and documents now arrived within 24 hours.

“The estimated costs of the paper transfer were high, costing around 80 pence for each letter,” he added.

“It is the time savings and streamlining of processes that is really making the difference for us.”