New contract has four times as many providers as outgoing deal, but it is not clear how long it will take for all systems to be available to buy
A total of 69 suppliers have won a spot on the new £500m framework for providing IT systems for doctors’ surgeries.
The GP IT Futures framework replaces the GP Systems of Choice deal. The outgoing contract featured a total of 17 suppliers across its three lots.
Currently, only four firms are accredited to provide doctors with core clinical systems – Microtest, INPS, EMIS, and TPP – with the latter two of these dominating the market.
The GP IT Futures framework retains all but one of the expiring deal’s suppliers, but adds 53 new entrants – three of which will now be able to compete with EMIS and TPP to provide central IT platforms.
Beyond those core systems, all of the 53 new entrants will be accredited to provide “a range of additional system capabilities to the UK primary care market”, according to NHS Digital.
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The GP Systems of Choice deal expires on 31 December. Between now and then, NHS Digital will begin an assessment process to accredit more than 250 products and services cumulatively offered by the 69 companies. Once each offering has successfully completed this exercise, it will be assured for use by surgeries.
NHS Digital said that “successful existing solutions [are] set to become available from 1 January 2020, with new to market solutions coming online throughout next year”.
When asked by PublicTechnology, the organisation said it could not say for sure which products would be available from the new framework’s launch day. But it said its assessment process would prioritise assurance work for products with the largest existing user base – which would suggest that the current duopoly of EMIS Health and TPP’s SystmOne platform will be available via the GP IT Futures deal before competitive offerings from newly appointed vendors.
A key driver for the creation of the new framework was to offer doctors greater choice and open up the market for smaller suppliers. When tenders opened in January, the government said that the current dominance of two firms “slows down innovation and traps GP practices in long-term contracts with systems that are not suited to the digital age”.
Given that the assurance process for new systems will continue some way beyond the launch date of the new framework, it is possible that surgeries and clinical commissioning groups whose existing contracts expire in the early part of 2020 will not have the option of immediately switching to a new product.
But even if this is the case, NHS Digital said that another key advantage of GP IT Futures is that it offers the chance to sign more flexible and shorter-term contracts.
The 69 suppliers to secure a spot on the vehicle – which are displayed below – represent the vast majority of the 73 firms who submitted bids.
The framework will last for an initial term of three years, and its cumulative value to the chosen suppliers has been pegged at £500m. Some £484m of this will be drawn from lot one, which covers core platforms. The second lot, which features complementary services, is valued at £16m.