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SystmOne GP practices to receive hospital discharge summaries electronically

GPs with SystmOne IT software may soon be receiving electronic discharge summaries and outpatient attendance information, NHS Digital has announced. 

It follows a pilot of 4,000 standardised summaries sent between Dorset County Hospital and four GP practices.

Information sent electronically during the trial included outpatient letters, emergency care and inpatient discharge summaries.

NHS Digital confirmed that TPP had been given the go head to roll out the system which had been shown to save GP time in processing information from secondary care.

Under the scheme, hospitals would also be notified when messages have been delivered and actioned, NHS Digital said.

The discharge summaries and other information are sent using standardised forms through the Message Exchange for Social Care and Health (MESH) and will give hospitals the option to send files that are much bigger than could be sent through email, a spokesperson added.

Andrew Meyer, director of Platforms at NHS Digital, said: ‘Improving transfers of care between hospitals and GP practices is a vitally important step to enhance patient care across different health and care settings.

‘We have come a long way from the early days of sending discharge information through the post, fax and even email to now providing a standardised and reliable service.’

He added: ‘Hospital staff can be reassured that the messages they send to GP practices have been delivered, read and acted upon, without the need to follow up with telephone calls.

‘Interoperability between different systems is key to reaching this target and we aim to work with other Trusts and GP suppliers to ensure that all GP computer systems can send and receive transfer of care messages in the near future.’

Dr John Parry, clinical director of TPP, said the standardised process would allow information to be extracted automatically making the process faster, less prone to error, and ‘ultimately safer for patients’.

‘The interoperability we have achieved here is an essential step in the right direction to make all communication into General Practice digital.’

A TPP spokesperson told Pulse that the new system will be enabled for all 2,700 SystmOne GP practices ‘over the next few weeks’. However this does not mean they will receive electronic discharge summaries, as hospitals also need to develop their systems to send electronic summaries. This work is ongoing in a number of hospitals.