Government plans to ‘abolish the 8am rush’ at GP surgeries may be a step closer following a call-out to suppliers to provide the tech needed by practices to address patient demand.
NHS England has invited tech specialists to tender for a new framework that will enhance GP practices’ capabilities to provide online consultations and improve their communication with patients.
The Digital Pathways Framework includes proposals for new, advanced digital systems that will improve the management of appointments bookings, messaging, and consultations.
It is part of a new suite of commercial frameworks that will allow buyers to purchase standardised and assured digital systems for primary care.
GP practices in England have been promised a share of £240m to encourage them to ‘embrace the latest technology’ including switching from analogue telephony systems to digital. The funding is expected to cover a four-year period from January 2024 to 2028.
The Digital Pathways framework will bring together a range of tech tools for practices that cover the core capabilities of online consultations and administrative request reporting; online patient or service user consultation; care navigation; and online administrative requests.
Other tools may offer additional capabilities including enhancing prescription ordering for patients; communication management; video consultations; record viewing for patients; and cross organisational appointment booking.
NHS England’s director of digital primary care, Mark Sayers, said: ‘Surgeries with modern messaging, online booking, and video consultation systems find they have more capacity and less of an 8am rush, while giving patients a convenient way to get the help they need.
‘I’d encourage all suppliers to come forward who are able to provide the high-quality tools and technology needed to support our vision for modern general practice.’
Health Minister Neil O’Brien said the Government is ‘working to abolish the 8am rush and make it easier to see your GP in a convenient way.’
The deadline for the receipt of tenders or requests to participate is 17 November.