BACKGROUND: Hospital discharge summaries are a key communication tool ensuring continuity of care between primary and secondary care. Incomplete or untimely communication of information increases risk of hospital readmission and associated complications. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the introduction of a new electronic discharge system (NewEDS) was associated with improvements in the completeness and timeliness of discharge information, in Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, England.
METHODS: A before and after longitudinal study design was used. Data were collected using the gold standard auditing tool from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP). This tool contains a checklist of 57 items grouped into seven categories, 28 of which are classified as mandatory by RCP. Percentage completeness (out of the 28 mandatory items) was considered to be the primary outcome measure. Data from 773 patients discharged directly from the acute medical unit over eight-week long time periods (four before and four after the change to the NewEDS) from August 2010 to May 2012 were extracted and evaluated. Results were summarised by effect size on completeness before and after changeover to NewEDS respectively. The primary outcome variable was represented with percentage of completeness score and a non-parametric technique was used to compare pre-NewEDS and post-NewEDS scores.
RESULTS: The changeover to the NewEDS resulted in an increased completeness of discharge summaries from 60.7% to 75.0% (p < 0.001) and the proportion of summaries created under 24 h from discharge increased significantly from 78.0% to 93.0% (p < 0.001). Furthermore, five of the seven grouped checklist categories also showed significant improvements in levels of completeness (p < 0.001), although there were reduced levels of completeness for three items (p < 0.001).
CONCLUSION: The introduction of a NewEDS was associated with a significant improvement in the completeness and timeliness of hospital discharge communication.
- Automatic Data Processing/standards
- Efficiency, Organizational/standards
- Electronic Health Records
- Hospital Information Systems/standards
- Longitudinal Studies
- Patient Discharge/standards
- Quality Improvement
- Retrospective Studies