The Department of Health and Intellect have been questioned about what their intention to create a “vibrant” healthcare IT market actually entails.

The DH Informatics Directorate and Intellect have published a new formal outline of how they plan to create a “healthy and vibrant” market, following consultation on a draft plan that was published in November.

The draft plan was downloaded more than 600 times during the consultation phase, and the new document says that response was “very positive”.

It focussed on: improving the perception of healthcare IT, so it can be seen as a fundamental element that can transform the public health and care system; instigating enthusiasm within the NHS so there is a desire for IT systems; and using Intellect’s expertise to inform a new information strategy.

The draft plan also proposed three separate work streams to: identify better models of information flow; establish standards, requirements and accreditation of systems; and improve the ‘sub-optimal’ procurement process.

However, one of the main concerns of key stakeholders was about what the phrase a “vibrant healthcare IT marketplace” actually means.

The latest plan says organisations that responded to the consultation wanted clear objectives that could be measured. It says it has adopted this requirement and teams will be appointed to define objectives and measurement criteria.

The DHID and Intellect will also consider building an evidence base of good information and technology programmes to support an evaluation framework.

The partnership between the DHID and Intellect was announced in September, when the government announced it was going to “accelerate” the end of the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

The ‘joint plan of works’ says its objective is to “foster the right conditions to enable a healthy and vibrant healthcare IT market within England for the benefit of patients and the public, as well as the NHS and adult social care staff who care for them.”

It also sets out a number of ‘key initiatives’ that will be undertaken to further this aim. One of these is to feed into the NHS Information Strategy that failed to appear last year, but may now be due out this spring.

The plan says the DHID and Intellect have held three workshops to discuss the forthcoming information strategy and enable industry experts to have some input into it.

Other initiatives will focus on making NHS managers and healthcare staff ‘informed’ clients and on communications. A number of workstreams will take forward work on information sharing and governance, standards, requirements and accreditation, and procurement.

The plan says more details about the initiatives will be available in March, and initial recommendations from the workstreams will be available in May.

Stakeholder urged the partnership to provide more detail on how the success of these work streams will be assessed.

The new plan says this will be established in due course: “what we have not done at this stage is to pre-determine what the objectives of each work stream are, but appoint recognised leaders from NHS and Industry to jointly agree and progress work as part of the overall plan.”

Stakeholders also wanted the partnership to ensure the NHS is actively involved in the process. The new plan says this will be achieved by a communications strategy to be published by the end of March.

The new plan is expected to be approved by the DH’s managing director of informatics, Katie Davis. Eventually, it will be “owned and overseen” at director general level within the DH, while the Intellect Healthcare Council will oversee it for the industry.

The partnership will also be required to produce quarterly updates on its progress on the new plan.