• 11 suppliers selected by NHS England to work with CCGs to rapidly provide digital services
  • Suppliers asked to bid on four lots within 48 hours
  • Livi and Doctorlink included, but Babylon not listed

A group of digital health suppliers have been selected by NHS England to provide digital primary care consultations as part of the health sector’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Eleven suppliers were chosen from the dynamic procurement system framework to rapidly deploy digital products across primary care, so clinicians are able to provide services remotely. 

Last week HSJ reported that digital tools procurement will be fast-tracked for GPs who do not have the tools to provide online consultations, as the NHS ramps up its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

On 17 March a 48-hour tender notice was sent out to the 33 organisations DPS framework. Suppliers could bid for five lots – including free text, video and triage. They were required to answer questions on whether the tech could be implemented at scale and pace, and the mobilisation of existing resources.

The successful bidders were informed on Wednesday they had been awarded a contract to work with clinical commissioning groups to rapidly scale services. Suppliers selected include Swedish digital healthcare provider Livi and iPlato. Babylon Healthcare does not appear on the list; it is has put forward its own coronavirus solution. 

The 11 suppliers selected are:

  • Livi
  • Doctorlink
  • eConsult
  • EMIS
  • Engage Consult
  • iPLATO
  • Q Doctor
  • Lincus
  • Ask NHS
  • FootFall
  • Visiba Care

NHS Digital has also fast-tracked the assurance of video technology currently on the digital care services framework — known as GP IT futures — to try to spread use of it.

It is meant to assure users the systems are “appropriate and secure”, according to a statement from the Department of Health and Social Care. Products from both frameworks will be centrally funded.

Digital Healthcare Council director Graham Kendall said he expected the new framework to be the “first step” towards the digital response to coronavirus, adding “there are many more providers that offer services that go beyond the scope of the tender”.

He said: “Undoubtedly there is huge demand for online consultations at scale and the rapid tender process shows how quickly it’s possible to move when there’s a coordinated and determined effort.

“While the tender makes new online consultation and triage functionality available, it had a very specific scope so we expect this to be just the first step.

“There are some excellent providers on the list and there are many more providers that offer services that go beyond the scope of the tender.

“We need to embrace all of that capability to deliver a sustainable increase in online capability both in primary care and across the wider range of care services.”

iPLATO Healthcare chief executive Tobias Alpsten said: ”Primary care is vital in helping to manage the current covid-19 pandemic, while still continuing to look after the health of our population. By using the myGP platform to manage everything from outbound patient engagement, appointment booking through to triage and video consultation primary care can continue to play its important role.”