Software provider Advanced and the University of Manchester have teamed up to develop an artificial intelligence solution to process clinical correspondence in primary care.

Working with AI specialist, Spectra Analytics, they have updated Advanced healthcare software Docman10 to automatically read patient letters.

The updated system, called Docman10X, will only show letters to GPs which the AI thinks need further action.

A number of GPs have agreed to take part in the first set of testing, which began this month.

Dr Benjamin Brown, a GP partner in Salford and researcher at The University of Manchester who is leading the programme, said: “GP practices receive hundreds of letters each day. These figures are likely to increase as clinical services that were delayed as a result of Covid-19 start to pick up again.

“While GPs can’t reduce their workload, they can change the way they work.

“Around 80-90% of letters can be processed without involving GPs, and only showing letters to GPs that actually need their input could save time that could be better spent doing other things.”

Brown has used Advanced Docman for more than 10 years and believes AI can streamline triage letters in GP surgeries, which currently place a burden on administrative staff.

“By automating the triage of letters, not only could we see a significant time saving for staff, but also potentially increase patient safety by speeding up how quickly GPs can action letters that actually need their input,” he added.

Ric Thompson, managing director of health and care at Advanced, said: “Docman10 is already handling documents for 40 million patients in the UK and actively managing around three million documents for GPs each week.

“Our early adopter programme is another step in working closely with primary care providers, helping them to meet the challenges they face when it comes to managing and delivering better patient care.

“Our technology is already proving to reduce the administrative burden, but there is more that can be done. We are developing an AI solution that, for the first time, will enable GPs to automate both repetitive and time-consuming tasks so they can instead spend more time on what they’ve spent years training to do – consulting with patients and providing the best possible care.”

Advanced is now inviting other practices across the UK to join its early adopter programme. Docman10X will be launched to existing Docman customers at a virtual launch event in February.