Martin Warden, NHS Digital’s Programme Director for Digital Transformation in General Practice, charts the importance of the new GP IT Futures Digital Care Services framework for digital transformation
Many people are quick to point out the shortcomings in the technology that is available to GPs.
There are times when these criticisms are justified, but most of the time they are unfair. We are, after all, the only major economy in the world where every GP practice uses a digital system to access its patients’ medical records.
These GP systems all connect to a vast network of national systems and services, such as the Electronic Prescription Service, the Electronic Referral Service, Spine, NHSmail, the Summary Care Record, and now the NHS App – all of which are extremely resilient and secure.
However, while it is important to recognise the many strengths and achievements within our system, we must also recognise that when it comes to digital transformation in primary care, we want to achieve more.
Setting the standard
The new GP IT Futures Digital Care Services framework is a key factor in getting us to where we need to be.
In January 2020, it replaced the old GP Systems of Choice (GPSoC) framework as the new framework where commissioners buy their GP systems and associated products and services.
Based around a set of open technology and data standards, the framework sets a high bar for suppliers by ensuring that all of their products will be able to communicate with each other across organisational boundaries.
Over time, these standards will enable all parts of the NHS to become connected, enabling better information for clinicians and better care for patients across care settings.
This will help to provide the insight needed to allow the NHS to be more efficient, enabling greater progress in medical research.
Shopping around for the best deal
Aside from the operational benefits, the new framework will also make it easier for practices within Primary Care Networks working with their commissioners to choose the IT products and services that best suit their needs.
The soon to launch Buying Catalogue will allow practices in Primary Care Networks working with their Clinical Commissioning Groups to easily compare assured solutions.
Gone are the days of a one-size-fits-all approach. The GP IT Futures Digital Care Services Framework will empower commissioners to buy the IT services they need – which are modern, standards-based, and with open architectures.
It will also be critical in ensuring the primary care sector meets the requirements set out in both the NHS Long Term Plan and the Five-Year Framework for GP contract reform.
The road to an open market
It will reform the commercial landscape of primary care IT by creating an open and competitive market that makes it much easier for new market entrants to offer their services.
GPs and their patients deserve the most effective and efficient modern technology available. A dynamic and vibrant market of suppliers and solutions will bring about a healthy competition, which ensures primary care has access to the best tech available.
We’ve worked with both existing system suppliers and potential new suppliers in building the new framework and we’ve been transparent about the requirements.
On the one hand, we are seeking to be extremely ambitious, while on the other hand, we are giving capable suppliers every chance to be successful.
More than 60 suppliers and around 360 solutions have already registered to be on the Buying Catalogue. We don’t yet know how many of these will go on to achieve full compliance.
While there is no guarantee as to how many of these solutions will make it to full compliance (remember, we’re setting a high bar), it is a good indication of the many options available and the overwhelming desire across the industry to bring about progress.
GP IT Futures Digital Care Services Framework– “It does what it says on the tin”
Perhaps what’s most exciting about GP IT Futures Digital Care Services Framework is the fact that it sits within the Digital Care Services model, which has been designed to evolve over time.
So regardless of the road ahead, the GPIT Futures Digital Care Services Framework will be flexible enough to move with the times – ensuring primary care has access to the most cutting-edge technology available.
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