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Hancock promises GP IT overhaul

New £450m framework will “shake up” primary care IT by getting rid of old systems, using new standards and exploring moving patient data to the cloud, says health secretary

Health secretary Matt Hancock has promised that the new GP IT framework will completely overhaul the primary care IT market and drive interoperability and standards.  

The £450m GP IT futures framework is aimed at making it easier for primary care providers to buy IT systems and services, as well as opening up what has been a very closed market, to more suppliers.   

The new framework is replacing the current GP Systems of Choice (GPSoC), which features only four suppliers: INPS, Microtest, Emis and TPP, with the latter two covering a large majority of the market.

Hancock said the current framework slows down innovation and traps GP practices in contracts with systems that are not fit for the digital age.

“Too often the IT used by GPs in the NHS – like other NHS technology – is out of date,” he said. “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.”

Services covered by the new framework will include core GP electronic patient record systems, but also a “range of ancillary services” such as document management, electronic consultations, mobile systems and clinical support, according to the prior information notice issued last year.   

The government said the framework will also look at how patient data can be moved to the cloud to allow real-time access to accurate information, and promised that by 2023/24, every patient in England will be able to access GP services digitally.

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NHS Digital CEO Sarah Wilkinson said the next generation of primary care IT services “must give more patients easy access to all key aspects of their medical record and provide the highest quality technology for use by GPs”.

Wilkinson said the services will also have to comply with new standards, recently set out by NHS Digital, to “ensure we can integrate patient records across primary care, secondary care and social care”. 

“In addition, we intend to strengthen quality controls and service standards, and dramatically improve the ease with which GPs can migrate from one supplier to another,” she added.

“We are committed to working with existing and new suppliers to deliver these extended capabilities for the benefit of GPs and patients. We are very excited about the huge opportunities that will arise from improving the sophistication and quality of these services.”

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