Patient records access functionality will be centrally funded via the new GP Systems of Choice contract.

Draft documents on the Health and Social Care Information Centre website indicate that practices will be able to choose to buy the service from third-party vendors, or from their core GP system supplier.

GPSoC is a framework contract which funds GP IT systems for more than 80% of practices in England.

The framework expired this month, but an extension has been agreed until a new contract is in place towards the end of this year.

The tender for the new contract was due out at the end of March, but has not been released. However, a lot structure document gives details of the new arrangements.

It says functionality to provide patients’ transactional services, patient records access and patient/clinician online communication will be part of Lot 1, which is funded centrally.

These services can be provided by principal system suppliers or third-party suppliers.

Founder of the Healthcare App Network for Development and Innovation Ewan Davis said the new GPSoC arrangements were welcome news to app developers.

“Principal suppliers will definitely make a direct offering as part of GPSoC, but I’m also certain that new app providers in particular will want to produce patient record access apps,” he said

“The way the framework works there’s no real constraint on that.

“My expectation would be direct interfacing and a number of apps,” he added.

A recent report produced by the Royal College of GPs recommended that the IT to provide ‘Patient Online’ would need to be mandated through GPSoC and local service providers contract processes.

A draft GPSoC Patient Services Requirements document, also made available by the HSCIC, says: “The requirements in this document have been informed by the discussions within, and the draft outputs from, the RCGP-led Patient Online Roadmap, but have not been endorsed by that programme”.

“A key objective of these requirements is to enable a market in subsidiary modules to develop, offering distinctive services, which are only constrained for consistency where they need to be.”

The paper says the principal suppliers of GP systems need to enable practice staff to register patients for online services and to proactively invite specific patients to register.

“Suppliers should be aware that, in the medium-term, the intention is to move from locally-identified and authenticated patients, to the use of common cross-governmental citizen identity mechanisms,” it adds.

The transactional functionality must allow practices to choose to have all laboratory results made available to patients online as soon as they are received, or to allow them to be workflowed by practice staff first and potentially not made available to the patient.

Patients should be able to update their demographic information as well as view and cancel appointments without any additional activity by practice staff.

They should also be able to view and order repeat prescriptions and request medication that is not set up as a repeat.

The system must be capable of displaying details of who has previously accessed the record via any online service and highlight any new information added since the patient’s last visit.

According to the HSCIC documents, also included in Lot 1 and therefore centrally funded, will be telehealth and mobile clinical applications.