Around two thirds of NHS trusts are sharing discharge summaries electronically with GPs and one fifth are prescribing electronically, early findings from digital maturity self-assessments show.

NHS England’s director of digital technology Beverley Bryant revealed some of the initial findings of the new ‘digital maturity index’ to Digital Health News, but stressed that they are yet to be audited.

NHS England wrote to trusts in November asking them to fill out a digital maturity assessment, which will feed into a national index, due to be published next month.

Bryant said 264 invitations were sent out and 248 organisations have completed their assessment.

Deloitte is now auditing the responses to ensure that what is reported by organisations is really reflected on the ground.

Bryant said she feels like overarching picture presented by the results so far “might be right”, but the data needs to be validated before details can be released.

The initial findings of the Digital Maturity Index are the first indication of whether a national target for all discharge summaries to be sent electronically is being achieved.

The requirement to send them electronically became part of the secondary care provider contract last October. However, it has not been requirement for GPs to be able to receive electronic discharge summaries. This will change as of April when it is included in the new General Medical Services contract.

The focus of the new digital maturity assessments is on the ‘meaningful use’ of IT systems, rather than whether a system is deployed.

‘Meaningful use’ is a US concept that defines minimum standards for using electronic health records and exchanging patient clinical data between providers, insurers and patients.

“We have learned the lessons taken from America and built that into the DMI so the definition of 'complete' for paper free at the point of care is based on a meaningful use principle,” Bryant told Digital Health News.

An organisation’s digital maturity assessment will also be considered, along with their Sustainability and Transformation Plan and Local Digital Roadmap, when NHS England looks to allocate £1.8 billion in technology funding over the next five years.

Both documents are due to be submitted in June. While the STPs are completed by individual organisations, the LDRs are being developed by clinical commissioning group areas.

NHS England previously reported there were going to be 89 roadmap ‘footprints’ nationwide, but Bryant said this is now 85.

Of these, 47 are single CCGs and 38 involve multiple groups working together, ranging up to 12 CCGs collaborating in Manchester.