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How will the NHS buy GP IT systems in the future?

Written by Tony Thorne on 07-May-2019 08:55:43

For a decade the GP market for information technology in England has been dominated by a few suppliers – the new contract aims to change this position. 

At Vision, we welcome the move by NHS England to replace the GP Systems of Choice (GPSoC) buying framework with GP IT Futures, and we are prepared to deliver.


By opening up the competition to more providers and ensuring more systems are available there is finally an opportunity for Clinical Commissioning Groups, Primary Care Networks and Integrated Care Systems to create modern digital services for patients and professionals. 

Currently, GPSoC enables buyers to purchase systems from four principal suppliers – Vision, EMIS, TPP and Microtest – and bolt on subsidiary tools afterwards.

The GP IT Futures framework will move away from having principal and subsidiary systems to one that supports modularity, intending to make it easier for new market entrants to provide services to primary care.

It should also make it easier to buy systems that interoperate across the NHS including with the foundation systems that supply core GP services.

The new framework aims to introduce ‘minimum technical requirements’ for systems to be able to ‘talk to each other securely’ and be ‘continuously upgradable’. Also, under the terms of the new framework, there is a drive to move to ‘cloud’ technology.

Providers must also comply with the NHS Long Term Plan’s vision for every patient in England to be able to access their GP via online or video consultation.

At Vision, we can already support cross-organisational collaboration and have the tools ready to be placed in GP IT Futures’ approved catalogue from which General Practices can choose.

1) Cloud Services

NHS Digital's goal is to derive the benefits of public cloud computing to ensure cost-effective and flexible solutions in line with the Health Minister's policy paper.

NHS England wants data and systems moved to cloud services to allow clinicians and patients to access the information in real-time securely. Vision has a cloud-first strategy and is already using Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure’s NHS-approved, secure cloud services for non-patient services like device registration and online decision support.

2) Online GP Services

By 2023/24 the NHS Long Term Plan wants every patient in England to be able to access GP services digitally, with practices able to offer online or video consultations. Vision can already work alongside new online consultation providers and is currently looking for a partner to provide a managed virtual waiting room for patients.

3) Medical Record Access

Central to increasing patient accountability and responsibility is giving patients easy access to their medical records. This is a service already offered through Vision Patient Services which provides global 24/7 access to a repeat prescription service and the ability to book or cancel appointments and view summary information from medical records such as:

  • diagnoses
  • event histories
  • allergies
  • problems
  • risks and warnings
  • medication
  • procedures
  • investigations

4) Sharing Patient Records

At the heart of the NHS Long Term Plan is a vision of multi-disciplinary teams working across different organisational and geographic boundaries. Without the ability to federate records this dream will never work. The technical ability to integrate patient records across primary, secondary and social care is at the heart of this challenge.

Vision Community is rolling out to pilot sites all over the country. The system can work with other suppliers like EMIS and is already bringing teams together to work more efficiently for better patient outcomes. This also extends to secondary care where Vision is already providing Accident and Emergency Departments and Outpatient Clinics access to GP records.

5) Strong Quality Controls and Standards

NHS England intends to strengthen quality controls and service standards, and dramatically improve the ease with which GPs can migrate from one supplier to another. Vision has always prided itself on its standards and has years of experience transferring practices.

We’ll leave you with Matt Hancock, the Health and Social Care Secretary’s, thoughts on why these changes are so important: “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 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.”

Vision is attending The King's Fund Conference

Topics: General practice


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