Outdated software used in general practice are to replaced under sweeping reforms announced by health secretary Matt Hancock.
The new GP IT Futures framework aims to create a market to encourage technology companies to invest in the NHS, with all systems to be required to meet minimum standards to ensure they can ‘talk’ to each other across boundaries.
According the DHSC, the current market is dominated by 2 main providers, which traps GP practices in long-term contracts with systems that are not suited to the modern era.
The new framework will look at how patient data will be moved to modern cloud services to allow clinicians and patients to securely access information in real time. The goal of the strategy is to allow every patient in England to be able to access GP services digitally, with practices able to offer online or video consultations by 2023 to 2024.
‘Too often the IT used by GPs in the NHS – like other NHS technology – is out of date.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,’ said Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock. ‘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.’
The new standards, developed by NHS Digital, will introduce minimum technical requirements so systems can talk to each other securely and are continuously upgradable.
Any system that does not meet these standards will not be used by the NHS and the government will look to end contracts with providers that do not understand these principles for the health and care sector.
‘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,’ said Sarah Wilkinson, Chief Executive at NHS Digital. ‘They must also comply with our technology standards to ensure that we can integrate patient records across primary care, secondary care and social care.’