Greater Manchester Clinical Correspondence project set to send 5 million documents

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The Greater Manchester (GM) health economy consisting of all 10 provider organisations serving 2.8 million patients across 450 GP practices have signed a contract for up to 5 years with Softcat and PCTI Solutions to deliver the EDT Hub electronic document transfer solution.

The EDT Hub solution enables NHS provider organisations to send all of their patient clinical correspondence electronically to their respective GP practices.  The solution provided by PCTI is currently being used across over 70 provider organisations across the UK, including Acute Trusts, Mental Health Trusts and Community care providers.  Whilst the EDT Hub is already responsible for safely delivering millions of electronic patient letters across the UK, this project will be the largest of its type within England.  The goal is to rapidly achieve the delivery of all patient letters across the GM Community which will be in excess of 5 million per annum.

hub3This project will encompass NHS organisations right across primary and secondary care, with all GP practices receiving their patient letters electronically.  For all those practices who currently use Docman (around 50% across the region), their electronic letters will be received automatically into the heart of their electronic document management systems complete with a rich set of meta data (a structured description of the patient, document type, to / from address and any associated values).  This is then workflowed around the practice using Docman in the usual seamless manner.  For practices not currently using Docman they will be provided with a one click install collection application that will automatically collect all electronic documents for onward processing within the practice.

The project is incredibly ambitious in terms of timescales with an expectation that all 10 EDT Hubs will be live within six months.  The GM project group and PCTI will be working very closely to ensure all timescales will be met.  There is a strong theme of partnership throughout the contract with the expectation that delivering electronic clinical correspondence from Trusts to GP practices is only the start.  Future developments may include, multi-directional document transfer enabling GP practices to send electronic documents to Trusts and new provider organisations taking additional EDT Hubs under the GM project.

Howard Gray, Chair of the GM ECC Programme Board said, “This is a strategic landmark for Greater Manchester, and builds on the strong partnership and collaboration we have with our NHS organisations across the region.  This project will provide a higher quality service for the patient and also deliver tangible financial benefits.  We see this project as the start and are excited by where we can take this in the future.”

The benefits of sending electronic clinical correspondence are well documented and include patient safety, improved efficiency of delivery timescales and staff processing time, improved patient experience and significant cost savings.  The cost savings alone across the GM community of Trusts are expected to well exceed £1,000,000 and this excludes the savings that will be made by GP practices.

Asim Patel, Head of GM IM&T Systems and Projects said, “We are very pleased to be working with Softcat and PCTI to deliver this ambitious project.  Whilst recognising that there are some challenging deadlines associated with this project, our team are confident that we will achieve our initial goals and quickly move onto new even more innovative developments.”

The initial aim of the project is to serve the primary and secondary care community of the GM region, however the project is intended to accommodate out of region Hub to Hub communication.  There are over 70 EDT Hubs across the UK enabling organisations within GM to easily send electronic clinical correspondence out of region via one of the many other cross country EDT Hubs.  All the sender needs to know is the GP practice they want to send to and the rest will be seamlessly worked out by the network of Hub to Hubs.

Ric Thompson, Managing Director PCTI, comments, “This is a very important project for us and we are delighted to be working with the GM project team.  EDT Hub is now commonplace across the NHS, but this is by far the biggest single project of its type across England.  I am personally very excited by the benefits that will be realised by this major project and look forward to the next phase which will include multi-directional electronic document transfer, patient access and a widening of organisations joining the GM ‘family’.”

Mark Brazington, Softcat Partner Alliance Manager, comments, “Despite facing a backdrop of aggressive timescales coupled with complex solution delivery working with PCTI and GM has been an absolute pleasure. Softcat were able to offer a swift, compliant and auditable procurement route via the Government Procurement Service CITHS Framework.”

Interoperability lies at the core of the solution by enabling multiple Trust IT systems to come together and deliver electronic correspondence electrically to their associated GP practice.  There are very practical tools provided by PCTI like Document Capture to simplify some of the more technical aspects of achieving this.

Dr John Hampson, Greenmount Medical Centre, Bury commented “Receiving documents electronically will play a significant role in delivering integrated care to the highest standards. The solution means that I can have access to patient letters immediately after they are produced, with the knowledge that they have arrived through a secure, auditable system. Improved speed of access to information and the efficiency savings enables us to have a streamlined and efficient back office. This is especially important as demands on administrative staff and GPs are exponentially increasing.”

Interoperability, standards and Information Governance were all key requirements evaluated during the solution selection phase of this project.  The GMECC project board were satisfied that the EDT HUB and associated suppliers, Softcat and PCTI could deliver on both today’s requirements and any future requirements coming down the line.