Connecting for Health plans to accredit more IT systems

Practices using hosted systems supplied by non-accredited providers, such as EMIS, i-Soft and In-Practice Systems, may become eligible for payments, following a policy U-turn by Connecting for Health.

The IT agency is negotiating a deal with system suppliers that could make it easier for practices to claim pay under the IT directed enhanced service (DES).

Under the IT DES, practices have to move to 'accredited, hosted' practice IT systems to qualify for 22p per registered patient. Practices using hosted systems have their patient records held remotely at data storage centres, rather than on a server on the premises.

GPs had feared that only systems hosted by Connecting for Health's five local service providers (LSPs) would be accredited.

But the Connecting for Health agency is negotiating to allow existing system suppliers to run hosted practice IT systems.

This would allow practices to claim the full remuneration available under the IT DES without switching to a new supplier.

The joint GP clinical lead for Connecting for Health, Dr Gillian Braunold, said that only the LSP-provided systems currently met the standard required for accreditation, the details of which will be revealed this month.

She said she was certain that the deal would be completed because it was backed 'at the highest levels' in the IT agency, and that PCTs and practices that used the hosted systems offered by suppliers, other than LSPs, would not be financially disadvantaged.

GPC IT subcommittee chairman Dr Paul Cundy said that the deal would settle the most significant IT issue in the whole GMS contract, which is choice of IT system.

He also predicted PCTs would try to restrict practices' choice of system: 'PCTs may choose to misinterpret this and restrict choice because they think it is easier to have all practices using the same system in their area.'

More than 1,000 GP practices in England use hosted systems supplied by EMIS, i-Soft or In-Practice Systems.

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