NHS England to scrutinise suppliers of personalised healthcare IT systems

Written by Rebecca Hill on 17 February 2017 in News

Suppliers offering IT systems for personalised healthcare need to gain approval from NHS England, as the body aims to ensure healthcare providers are using high quality solutions that offer good value for money.

NHS England will assess IT systems offering personalised healthcare - Photo credit: Flickr, Pete

An increase in personalisation of healthcare – offering people more choice and control over their care – is one of the main aims of the NHS’ Five Year Forward View.

As part of this, NHS England the Local Government Association are working on a partnership programme called Integrated Personal Commissioning, which was launched in April 2015.

A trial is being carried out by 13 Clinical Commissioning Groups, which are focusing on offering people with complex needs personalised health and social care support plans.

NHS England said that these Clinical Commissioning Groups are in the early stages of considering and procuring IT systems to offer more personalised healthcare, but that “there is a risk that these solutions are of varying quality”.

In a statement released last week, the body said that it was important to ensure that any IT systems used are of “high quality and represent value for money”. These solutions, it said, must be based on people’s needs – rather than being designed to meet the needs of the system.

“A system designed around people’s needs should support genuine choice and control, reduce complexity and encourage take-up,” NHS England said.

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Although NHS England acknowledged that IT solutions were “not a magic bullet to deliver personalisation at scale” and that there were many other factors involved, systems needed to support CCGs in the best way possible.

As such, the body has published a set of requirements for IT solutions – based on a consultation with local authorities, CCGs and other local groups – and suppliers are being asked to demonstrate that they comply with these requirements before 7 April.

NHS England will then publish a list of those that are compliant to help commissioners choose the most appropriate IT solution for their circumstances, in line with their normal procurement and governance processes.

NHS England stressed that it “is not, at this stage, procuring any solutions or contracts or setting up any form of purchasing framework”.

The conditions set out by NHS England include 11 core requirements that are compulsory for all providers, including that the solution is designed “with people at the heart”, through co-production and iterative design; that it offers genuine choice and control for people and supports a range of budgets.

They must also meet relevant data security and privacy standards, allow users to verify their identity – although it doesn’t specify a platform for them to use – and support assistive technologies.

In addition, there are five key areas of functionality that solutions should offer. These are: the ability to identify priority candidates for personalised care; to create a personalised support plan; offer a platform for management and monitoring; give people access to a broad marketplace of therapies and other care packages; and provide access to a community for peer support.

“It is not anticipated that any one IT solution will deliver all functional areas,” NHS England said, “but it is expected that all solutions consider the range of end user perspectives, and are developed with a view to being part of a single, coherent system.”

In addition to this, NHS England said that IT solutions should be able to integrate with the common platform for public access to NHS IT services, NHS.UK, and that they take into account NHS Digital service standards.

They should also seek to offer “additional innovation and creative solutions” not set out in the guidelines.

NHS England said that if suppliers feel that some requirements are not applicable to their solutions, it would take “a pragmatic approach [and] consider the justification for this, taking into account the direction of travel”.

NHS England added that this was the initial phase of its work, and that it would adopt an iterative approach to developing the process, with the aim of ensuring high quality IT solutions is maintained, while encouraging innovation and new entrants into the field.

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