NHS England lays digital plans for STPs

Organisation begins search for suppliers to support sustainability and transformation partnerships with infrastructure and data services

NHS England has taken an early step towards providing a digital backbone for the country’s sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs).

Metre indicating solution foundIt has begun to test the market for various services to give the STPs an easy procurement route for digital support, indicating that it wants to develop a ‘one stop shop’ framework.

STPs involve partnerships between NHS organisations and local authorities aimed at developing joint plans, reflecting the strong trend towards the integration of health and social care.

NHS England has published an outline for potential suppliers of the likely digital requirements, indicating that they will be separated into a number of areas.

The strongest technology element is in the area of infrastructure support, involving the digitisation of care and operational services, including the use of electronic patient records. It is also likely to include health information exchange and interoperability hubs, IT support that extends to GPs and other primary care providers, and data management and information governance support.

A technology element would also be prominent within self-care programmes. The supplier notice indicates that NHS England will want suppliers to help scale up innovations that involve using technology to monitor patients, share information and influence care interventions.

Analytics element

There is also a strong emphasis on population health analytics, with likely requirements for system planning, health needs assessment, care coordination, risk stratification, impactability modelling, and clinical decision support and workflow.

Other elements are likely to focus on supporting the organisational elements of STPs, including impact and intervention support, pathway enablement and care model design, primary care transformation, integrated personal commissioning and healthcare budgets.

All this has come with an indication that a procurement framework would be subject to be refreshed regularly to accommodate new technology solutions.

NHS England has previously published an aide-memoire emphasising the need to improve the digital capability to support STPs, and pointing to the development of local digital roadmaps.

It outlined a series of ambitions for fulfilment by 2020, including an easy flow of information between primary, secondary and social care providers; that patient information is recorded only once; that clinicians are alerted promptly to key patient events; and there is an increased use of telehealth and collaborative technologies.

While the move is a significant step forward for STPs, concerns have been expressed in some quarters – including the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting – about the cultural and financial differences between NHS and local government organisations, and the fact that the STP footprints do not always match local authority or devolution boundaries.

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