The PRSB (Professional Records Standards Body) has launched a project to improve the content and standardise outpatient letters so that professionals, patients and carers receive consistent and reliable, high quality information.
As more care and a wider range of specialist services are delivered out of hospital, the importance of well-structured outpatient letters is essential to good communications between clinicians and patients.
They are the main method of contact and communication between hospital staff and GPs and communicate to the patient a record of the consultation and decisions. They are often the sole record of the consultation held by the outpatient department and hospital.
This project aims to help clinicians to communicate relevant information more quickly, reducing transcription errors by enabling re-use of key data in the GP system, and producing better information for audit and research where appropriate.
In January 2017 the PRSB held a workshop with 50 clinicians, professionals and patient representatives at the Royal College of Physicians. This workshop looked at what information must, should and could be shared to improve the quality and usefulness of outpatient letters. The key message from the workshop was that standards should promote drafting clear, concise records that are timely and accessible to everyone.
The PRSB are now in the process of a wider consultation via an online survey. This survey has been designed to get the views of patients, carers, healthcare professionals, and clinical information system suppliers on draft national standards for the structure and content of outpatient letters.
You can find out more information about the project and survey on the PRSB website here.