St. Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is sending all of its discharge summaries to GPs electronically.

The trust has implemented PCTI’s electronic document transfer hub to send discharge summaries directly to GP practices in St Helens, Halton and Knowsley.

Neil Darvill, the trust’s director of informatics, told EHI that the trust created a discharge summary template, which captures all the information collected during a patient’s stay in hospital such as diagnoses and procedures.

"The clinical information systems are integrated with the hub. For instance it pulls information from radiology and all of the current test results. All of the data gets pulled in and sent directly to the GP," Darvill explained.

The summary also lists any prescriptions issued to the patient on discharge.

“The information is readable in real time and comprehensive and we send it over right away," he said.

The trust is also sending outpatient letters and A&E information via the hub. Since implementing EDT the trust has sent 37,000 A&E letters and 120,000 outpatient letters electronically.

Darvill said local GPs already used PCTI’s Docman electronic document management system so making the move to the EDT hub was a natural move.

“Interoperability was a key driver for us in the project, transmitting timely information to GPs from providers directly in to their workflow process in Docman,” he said.

“At the GP practice end the data to file the document is pre-populated into the filing fields to reduce the manual data entry that is required. This further automates the process.”

Previously, it could take up to a month after the patient was in hospital before the GP received a discharge letter.

Darvill said despite the success, there is still a way to go before all clinicians are on board with the new system.

"It’s a change in practice. If you’re used to working in a certain way, there’ an element of time you need to give people to change their processes,” he said.

He added that the trust plans on introducing the discharge summaries to out-of-hours, community and NHS 111 services.

“In the future we will look to integrate more information and organisations, but we are working really hard to add more documents electronically,” Darvill said.