The Department of Health has appointed Capita to manage the Information Standard accreditation scheme that is due to be launched later this summer.
The contract is the second big information win for Capita in the past year. Last July, the outsourcing specialist won the contract to run NHS Choices for three years, taking over from Dr Foster Intelligence.
Capita’s latest contract is to run a certification scheme for information production. Organisations whose information production systems pass a new standard will be allowed to put a “quality mark” on their information materials.
Finding a way to “quality mark” healthcare information has been a pre-occupation of policy makers, medical and consumer groups for many years. However, the new scheme is being presented as part of the drive to give patients more choice of and control over their own healthcare.
Ann Keen, parliamentary under-secretary for health services, said the new Information Standard would “make a significant difference to those needing health and social care information and help them make informed choices about their care.”
The tender for the scheme said the DH was looking for three things from bidders: a standard to define information production systems, a certification process leading to the award of the quality mark and support for organisations to attain and retain the mark.
When the tender was issued, the DH said there were 50,000 organisations in England producing healthcare information and their interest in the scheme was “high.”
There will be subsidies to sign-up for a limited period, after which the scheme is meant to be self-financing. The tender put the value of the contract at between £3m and £6.5m.
The DH says it has conducted research that shows the public is also in favour of a scheme. It says a survey of 1,000 adults carried out in March 2007 found that 87% felt it would give them more confidence in health and social care information.