NHS England is looking to outsource the provision of the “daughter of NHS Choices” beyond April 2014.
A letter from NHS England’s national director of patients and information, Tim Kelsey, invites potential providers of the new Integrated Customer Service Platform to engagement days next month.
Described by NHS England’s chief executive Sir David Nicholson as “the daughter of NHS Choices”, the ICSP is based on the US 311 service that enables people to access information about government services via the web, phones, Skype, Twitter and apps.
The platform, due to launch this November, will become the, “digital front door to health and care services for the majority of the population in the future”.
“The ICSP will also develop as an effective tool to deliver system-wide efficiencies by shifting services and transactions to digital channels, and become the single largest health and care information service, providing an open and accessible interface that third party developers can use to create innovative products for consumers and further exploit its information,” the letter says.
NHS Choices staff have been transferred to the Health and Social Care Information Centre after the Cabinet Office blocked the renewal of Capita’s contract to provide the current service earlier this year.
The letter says NHS Choices will continue to be provided in-house over the next few months, but the ICSP Programme Board is considering a number of options for the procurement of the platform post April 2014.
These include: outsourcing the programme and procurement management and service provision of ICSP separately; keeping management in-house and outsourcing service provisions; or outsourcing to a joint venture with a commercial partner in which the Department of Health would have an equity share.
Service provisions that may be outsourced include: a hosting service; social media monitoring and management service; digital content management and insight service; application and development services; and data management and visualisation services.
“We wish to maximize the opportunity for the participation of the third sector and SMEs and achieve best of breed in all areas,” the letter says.
The ICSP Programme Board is a sub-committee of the Informatics Services Commissioning Group, chaired by Kelsey. Supplier briefings are being held on 13 August in London and 22 August in Leeds.