Interoperability and the opening up of application programme interfaces will be key factors in the NHS Commissioning Board’s vision for the new NHS.

EHI Primary Care reported last year that the new GP Systems of Choice contract could force all GP system suppliers to open their APIs to third party suppliers.

Speaking at the NHS Productivity conference last week, the NHS CB’s director of strategic systems and technology, Beverley Bryant, confirmed that open APIs would be a part of the new contract.

“We need to have open APIs and we are in negotiations with GPSoC to deliver just that,” she said.

A new contract is expected by the end of this year. Bryant also said that the NHS CB was working to make sure all IT systems had a level of interoperability so they could talk to each other across the country.

“We’re doing a lot around interoperability. We want to support good practice, but within context of national systems,” said Bryant.

“What will start to happen is a call to arms for NHS employees, clinicians and the public to get behind this.”

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has set out a tight timetable for making all records and communications in the NHS paperless by 2018.

Bryant said making all records and referrals electronic was crucial. The current situation where some referrals were managed electronically while others were not was the, “worst of both worlds.”

Bryant, who took on the role in January this year, said it was still too early to say exactly what that entailed, but promised that the NHS CB would release more information on that soon.

“We’re looking to launch much more about what that means in May/June," she said. “My role is to create a vision for technology in the NHS, more work with small and medium sized enterprises, to stimulate growth and help people feel stimulated.

"There are pockets of innovation, but we need to get these on a grander scale.

“It’s quite difficult at the moment to break into the market. We need to think about how we make it easier to do business with the NHS.”

Bryant added that the NHS CB would work to restructure Choose and Book.

“At the moment there are a number of functionality enhancements that will make Choose and Book easier,” she explained.

“There are some difficulties that can be fixed and make it easier to use, and we want to add on some user friendly functionality which is not embedded in the current system.”