Twelve of 14 Scottish health boards are using PCTI’s Electronic Document Transfer Hub as part of a national project to send correspondence electronically.

The programme to roll-out EDT across Scotland was announced in November 2011 and the hub is being installed at the last two health boards: NHS Lothian and NHS Forth Valley.

Across Scotland, more than 300,000 patient letters are being sent electronically every month.

NHS Tayside went live in 2009 as the early adopter of the programme and has digitally delivered more than 1m patient letters to GP practices.

The board is channelling eight services through the hub including Adastra’s out-of-hours system, immediate discharge letters and lab results.

NHS Tayside says it is recognising many of the benefits of the hub such as improved patient safety, improved patient information quality and cost savings.

PCTI said the cost of sending a letter was between 50p and £1. Receiving letters into Docman was also reported to save practices 50 seconds per letter.

NHS Tayside joint clinical IT Lead Dr Beena Raschkes said the previous system, which involved printing off a computer-generated letter and posting it to a practice where it was scanned into a computer system, was recognised as “insanity.”

The hub meant letters were sent directly into Docman and also displayed in NHS Tayside’s clinical portal.

Dr Raschkes, who is a practising GP, said the working lives of Scottish GPs had changed significantly due to increasing use of technology.

“The whole system has been revolutionised in the last three to five years and we are now able to see the benefits in the secondary care setting.”

She recently had an elderly patient discharged home with eight medications and the discharge letter was sent through EDT Hub at lunchtime.

Dr Raschkes saw it and decided to speak to the woman’s daughter about rationalising her drugs to make it simpler. She issued a script and the pharmacy delivered the new medication regime the next morning.

“With the old paper discharge letter we probably would never have received it, and it would still be in her handbag, on her mantelpiece,” Dr Raschkes commented.

PCTI’s Docman electronic document management system was rolled out to all GPs in Scotland about eight years ago.

The EDT Hub roll-out is being managed by PCTI’s partner Microtech and integration partner ReStart Consulting.