Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust has reduced the time it takes GPs to receive trust letters from two weeks to 24 hours.

The trust, which is sending GP letters electronically from A&E, inpatients and outpatients, uses a system from Ascribe. It is based on Microsoft SharePoint technology, which acts as a centralised hub collating information from multiple systems.

Gordon Greaves, the trust’s associate director of IT, told EHI that a letter is automatically produced and sent to local GPs using a set of templates.

“We started using this particular tool back in April last year. It’s been a phased approach where we launched that in A&E, and then we moved on to inpatients before beginning with outpatients,” he said.

“All information can now be submitted within 24 hours, from a process that used to take up to two weeks for letters to get to the GP.”

He added that if the GPs are using a Docman document management system, or similar, the letter is automatically loaded in the patient’s record.

The trust is a long-standing Ascribe customer and uses the company’s systems for A&E, patient administration and electronic discharge.

Greaves said that although most letters are sent electronically some are still sent via “snail mail”.

“We are still sending some letters on paper. The problem was always going to be outpatients because we send out 600 letters a day. Now 20-25 letters a day are still sent on paper,” he said.

He added that part of the problem is that not all GPs are happy to receive letters electronically.

“It’s difficult to change ways of working. All of the GPs have the capability to take it, but we have had mixed messages from them.”

The trust plans to improve communications with GPs in order to ensure more surgeries take advantage of the opportunity.

“The plan going forward is to make sure we are sending it to everybody and working with GPs to see how we can improve it for them,” said Greaves.