DHSC plans to overhaul practice IT systems will 'make life easier' for GPs

GP IT systems face 'widespread changes' under a new procurement process that the government said would 'make life easier' for GPs.

(Photo iStock.com/sturti)
(Photo iStock.com/sturti)

The GP IT Futures framework will aim to create a more open, competitive market to encourage more technology companies to invest in the NHS, the DHSC said.

It added that current ‘outdated and frustrating’ systems would be replaced with modern technology that will be required to meet minimum standards, which will developed by NHS Digital, to ensure they are 'able to talk to each other securely' and be 'continuously upgradeable'.

As part of the plans the government also wants to make it easier for practices to migrate from one supplier to another if they wish to do so.

Under the current GP Systems of Choice contractual framework practices can choose from one of four main system suppliers - TPP SystmOne, EMIS Web, InPS Vision and Microtest Evolution. However, most practices use either SystmOne or EMIS.

The DHSC said that the market was currently dominated by two main GP IT service providers and practices were often left 'trapped in long-term contracts with systems that are not suited to the digital age'.

IT systems

Under the new framework, different systems across primary and secondary care will be able to ‘talk to each other’ securely for the first time, allowing clinicians and patients to access information quickly and easily. Systems that do not meet these requirements will no longer be used by the NHS.

The framework will look at how 'patient data will be moved to modern cloud services to allow clinicians and patients to securely access crucial, life-saving information in real time', the DHSC said.

Systems must also help the DHSC meet its aim of enabling every patient in England to be able to access GP services digitally by 2023/24 and all practices able to offer online or video consultations.

The DHSC said that the changes would ‘make life easier for GPs’ by freeing up staff time and reducing unnecessary delays.

NHS Digital chief executive Sarah Wilkinson said: ‘The next generation of IT services for primary care must give more patients easy access to all key aspects of their medical record and provide the highest quality technology for use by GPs. They must also comply with our technology standards to ensure that we can integrate patient records across primary care, secondary care and social care.'

'New solutions'

Ms Wilkinson said NHS Digital was working to ‘dramatically improve the ease with which GPs can migrate from one supplier to another’. 'We’re very excited about the huge opportunities that will arise from improving the sophistication and quality of these services,' she added.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Too often the IT used by GPs in the NHS – like other NHS technology – is out of date. It frustrates staff and patients alike, and doesn’t work well with other NHS systems. This must change.

‘I love the NHS and want to build it to be the most advanced health and care system in the world – so we have to develop a culture of enterprise in the health service to allow the best technology to flourish.

'I want to empower the country’s best minds to develop new solutions to make things better for patients, make things better for staff, and make our NHS the very best it can be.'

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