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Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced plans to replace frustrating IT systems in GP practices with modern technology.
The GP IT Futures framework will create an open, competitive market to encourage the best companies to invest in the NHS, ensuring that all systems will soon be required to meet minimum standards to ensure they can communicate across boundaries.
By expanding the market from its two dominant providers, the framework will look at how patient data should be moved to modern cloud services, enabling clinicians and patients to securely access life-saving information in real time. Hancock has set out plans for every patient in England to be able to access GP services digitally by 2023, freeing up staff time and reducing delays in the process. This builds upon his tech vision for the NHS.
The new standards, developed by NHS Digital, will introduce minimum technical requirements, with systems that do not meet them unable to be used by the NHS. Hence, the government will look to end contracts with providers that do not understand or meet such requirements.
Hancock said: "Too often the IT used by GPs in the NHS – like other NHS technology – is out of date.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."
Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive at NHS Digital, 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.
"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."