The Government has launched the procurement process for providers of new GP IT systems, marking the first shake-up to the market in over a decade.
The Department of Health and Social Care said the ‘GP IT Futures framework’ would open up competition to more providers and ensure more systems were available that are suited to ‘the digital age’.
The Government said it would 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 panel, providers must hold patient records using ‘cloud’ technology.
They must also comply with the DHSC’s vision for every patient in England to be able to access their GP via online or video consultation by 2023/24.
The news comes as the Government’s framework for GP IT systems has not been subject to a full review since 2007.
Under the current GP Systems of Choice framework practices can choose to use TPP SystmOne, EMIS Web, InPS Vision or Microtest Evolution – although the vast majority of practices use either EMIS Web or SystmOne.
It is currently proposed that call-off contracts – individual contracts that fall under framework agreements – will be entered into by local organisations such as CCGs and awarded through the GP IT Futures framework to GPs, GP federations and networks, primary care homes, multi-speciality community providers, or other integrated care organisations.
EMIS announced in November that its new EMIS-X system would move patient records onto the cloud and that Patient Access would begin to facilitate GP video consultations.
NHS Digital chief executive Sarah Wilkinson said this ‘next generation of IT services for primary care’ would ‘give more patients easy access to all key aspects of their medical record and provide the highest quality technology for use by GPs’.
She said: ‘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.
‘We are committed to working with existing and new suppliers to deliver these extended capabilities for the benefit of GPs and patients. We’re very excited about the huge opportunities that will arise from improving the sophistication and quality of these services.’
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and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Too often the IT used by GPs in the NHS – like other NHS technology – is out of date.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.’
A version of this story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.