Coventry and Warwickshire trust celebrates sending one million patient letters electronically


Milestone shows improvements in turnaround times and 50p cash saving per letter

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) has utilised Docman’s electronic document transfer solution, Docman Hub, to send more than one million patient letters electronically to GP practices.

The trust reports a saving of around 50p for each patient letter sent electronically, with further additional time savings both for the trust and primary care by removing the processes of handling paper.

The trust has 16 document sources connected to the hub, enabling patient letters to be sent to the neighbouring 155 practices electronically, securely and in real time. Previously patient letters were sent by paper to practices, resulting in a time-consuming and costly process.

UHCW sends more than 40,000 patient letters electronically each month to local practices and covers a population of more than one million across Coventry and Warwickshire. The correspondence being sent electronically covers a wide range of areas but includes clinical letters, ad-hoc letters, inpatient admission and inpatient discharge (eDischarge) information.

Westside Medical Centre in Rugby was the recipient of the one millionth electronic letter sent through the hub into Docman GP, the practice’s electronic document management and workflow solution. The practice serves a patient list in excess of 10,000.

Mark Walker, clinical results reporting system manager at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, said: “UHCW sends patient letters in real time to GP practices. Our previous process was to send paper letters to our GP colleagues. This was a costly and time-consuming method. We estimate the paper process cost us around 50p for each letter and then there are the additional time costs involved in handling paper.”

“155 practices are receiving these letters electronically and practices are set up to receive them into Docman GP for filing and onward workflow every couple of hours. This electronic process enables us to know when each patient letter was sent and when it was received by the practice. If a patient is no longer at the practice then the document can be easily rejected and sent back to us to manage, whereas a paper process this would be time consuming to complete.”

Coventry and Warwickshire trust celebrates sending one million patient letters electronically

Robin Arnold, director of ICT for UHCW, added: “As a public organisation we are keen to use technology to give the patients we serve the best care we can. Docman is an efficient and speedy solution. Its implementation means that, not only are we providing GPs with information in the fastest possible time, but we are removing errors that are traditionally associated with paper-based systems.”

Docman Hub is utilised by 100 NHS trusts to send patient letters electronically. The solution captures documents from secondary care systems and distributes them to any GP practice. Documents that arrive into Docman at a GP Practice include ‘meta-data’ (patient and document information) to auto-file the document, providing further automation and minimal user intervention to improve data quality and save practices time. Documents then enter into a workflow instantaneously to GPs and ensure systems are completely up to date with all patient episodes, providing a knowledgeable and informed service to patients.

Dr John Derrick from Westside Medical Centre, said: “Docman is great. Our processes are now secure, there is no loss of paper, and no waiting for information. We were early adopters of Docman years ago and our practice love it. Docman has become an integral part of our surgery. We used to waste so much time looking for documents in inboxes; now our processes are much quicker and information is workflowed around the practice for review, comment or action. The process is streamlined and is essential for an efficient way of working. Receiving letters electronically adds to this. Letters are with us days before the post and information is on hand for when it is needed.”

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Reception manager, Kellie Bayliss, added: “We are now not seeing a backlog of letters to process. By receiving letters electronically it is a fast, secure way to ensure we have early access to patient letters.”