The GP IT Futures framework aims to widen supplier base and choice, and could include tools such as video consultations and apps for practices to communicate with patients
A new £450m national framework to provide IT systems for GPs aims to make room for smaller specialist suppliers and offer doctors more choice.
NHS Digital has issued a prior information notice (PIN) outlining its plans for the GP IT Futures deal, and seeking to engage potential tech providers in helping shape the framework. The contract will ultimately replace the incumbent GP Systems of Choice (GPSoC) vehicle that is due to expire in December.
As with the outgoing deal, GP IT Futures will cover both core clinical systems – such as electronic patient records – and additional services, which might include commodity hardware, medical devices, document management, and consultancy services.
This range of supplementary offerings could also feature programmes offering support with clinical decisions, technologies to deliver remote consultations with doctors, or apps allowing individual GP practices to communicate with patients.
All products and services will be listed on a digital catalogue.
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The new framework aims to offer a more flexible, outcomes-driven set-up than the GPSoC deal – which is divided into clearly demarcated lots addressing, respectively, core clinical systems, additional IT services, and a third lot covering services for sharing data between GPs and other healthcare providers.
The PIN for GP IT Futures said: “All business requirements will, at the highest level, be expressed as capabilities; these are the functions a business needs to be able to undertake, and often directly map to modules or functions which a system provides. This is a step change away from having principal and subsidiary systems, and starts to pave the way towards supporting modularisation in the future, and segments the requirements in a way that should make it easier for suppliers – including new entrants – to provide discrete capabilities, as well as providing buyers with more choice.”
The new framework will also provide services not only to GPs, but to other organisations such as GP federations, primary-care networks, and community, mental health, and integrated care organisations.
Over the coming months, NHS Digital wishes to “engage with potential suppliers to test, validate and refine” the framework in five areas: product catalogues and the on-boarding of suppliers; commercial and contracting models; using software-as-a-service for payments; new models that may focus on output or standards; and an invitation-to-tender and procurement process that is “based on open procedure”.
A contract notice is currently scheduled to go out on 4 January 2019.
Martin Warden, director of the Digital Transformation in General Practice programme at NHS Digital, said: “The new framework will improve access to GP data for patients and the NHS, as well as enabling digitised workflows in and between care settings to support better patient care. It will make it simpler to bring new capabilities and suppliers to market, and provide local organisations and other buyers with more choice through an online catalogue service.”