• NHSE to refresh its technology framework
  • Changes aimed at boosting NHS’ ability to access innovations
  • Suppliers to be tested “more rigorously” 

Integrated care systems will have easier access to the latest technology under NHS England’s plans to refresh its flagship purchasing vehicle, which is used by trusts to buy technology services.

The arm’s-length body wants to create an “innovation greenhouse” which will provide faster routes for ICSs to “tried and tested innovations for patients, populations and NHS staff”, according to documents issued to suppliers.

NHSE hopes to achieve this by adding a new lot to its Health Systems Support Framework, which was set up last year as a “one stop shop” for sustainability and transformation partnerships and ICSs looking to buy consultancy and technology services

The framework’s scope includes population health management, electronic patient records, local health and care records, analytics, and a range of support services for demand management, capacity planning and medicines optimisation.

The framework has previously attracted some controversy, with critics saying it was “rushed” and favoured larger companies.

Fifteen contracts have been awarded through the framework since its establishment and 11 further procurements are currently ongoing, covering £54m of spend in total. Last year, NHSE estimated business worth £300m would be done through the framework over four years.

However, trusts do not have to use the framework when buying technology. 

NHSE said the innovation greenhouse, which is how the organisation is describing the new lot, would “enable innovative solutions that have a significant impact on outcomes in the NHS to be rapidly scaled”.

The lot would include an assessment process that “allows existing accreditations to be carried forward into the bid process”, NHSE’s briefing paper to suppliers stated (attached below).  

Examples of the anticipated innovations include initiatives like the NHS test beds programme and the NHS innovation accelerator. Part of the lot might be designed to attract “innovative organisations and small to medium sized businesses”.

Several other changes to the framework are also planned, including: 

  • NHSE want to test suppliers’ capabilities “more rigorously” based on “demonstrable use of data” when looking at intelligence and analytical tools;
  • A new set of suppliers will be accredited for services tailored towards primary care networks and integrated care providers;
  • To get on the framework, it is envisaged that suppliers will be tested once against a set of “core capabilities” (such as interoperability standards and financial stability) rather than against specific services; and
  • Extensions to the framework so it covers e-rostering, workforce management and transfer of care.

NHSE has proposed the changes after discussions with NHSX and reviewing NHS policy documents published in the last year, including the NHS long-term plan. It expects to re-open applications to join the framework in mid-October, although this could change depending on the level and content of feedback from suppliers.

Suppliers already on the framework will not be removed so long as they can prove they have retained the capabilities which allowed them to be added to the framework last year. However, they will need to submit a bid to be accredited for services covered by new lots or new criteria within lots.

HSJ Digital Transformation Summit

The HSJ Digital Transformation Summit, taking place at the Crowne Plaza, Stratford-upon-Avon from 12-13 February 2020, unites 120+ senior leaders from across the provider, commissioning and STP landscape with those who have leveraged technology to drive tangible improvements across other industries, to discuss how to realise your digital visions in a cash-limited environment and scale up innovations to improve quality and outcomes for your local population.

Held under the Chatham House Rule, attendees will quiz NHSX and national figures on general policy direction and co-develop solutions to their local challenges with innovators from across the country. The summit is free to attend for senior NHS digital leaders.

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