Electronic discharge summaries: the current state of play

Health Inf Manag. 2007;36(3):30-6.


The exchange of health information between acute care providers (e.g. hospitals) and primary care providers (e.g. general practitioners) has traditionally been via hard copy discharge summaries. In recent years the advent of sophisticated information and communication technology has fuelled developments in electronic discharge referral systems (eDRS), which are credited with enabling more timely and accurate information exchange, enhancing patient care, and ultimately improving patient outcomes. The aim of this paper is to highlight key issues regarding the development and implementation of electronic discharge referral systems. A detailed literature review of information related to electronic discharge summaries was undertaken for publications between 1992 and 2006. While eDRS appear to be beneficial, further improvements are needed before systems are dependable. Through prospective enhancements and increased availability of eDRS internationally, electronic discharge referral systems have the potential to facilitate effective communication exchange across the primary-secondary care interface.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Computer Communication Networks / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Medical Record Linkage / methods*
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / organization & administration*
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / standards
  • Patient Discharge* / standards
  • Referral and Consultation / organization & administration
  • Referral and Consultation / standards