NHS England will provide information on how the NHS ‘vanguard’ sites can make use of digital technology as part of a support package published by the end of this month.

The package gives details on what organisations need to do to drive the vanguard programme, which was launched in March this year as a way to trial new models of care at 29 different sites across England.

As reported in board papers ahead of its meeting on Thursday, NHS England has visited all the sites over the past few months to identify several “enabling areas for support”, which form the basis of the work programme over the next year.

One of these areas of support is ‘harnessing technology’, with NHS England stating that the vanguard sites have “asked for our support to completely rethink how care is delivered given the huge potential of digital technology to offer care in radically different ways”.

NHS England’s board papers outline several areas of support that vanguard sites will be able to access going forward, including “expert advice” to design and select digital systems and the publication of examples of best practice in digital healthcare.

From October 2015, sites will have support to map, understand and use existing digital capabilities in the local health system, while there will also be a guide to identify gaps in their technology and define digital priorities.

The support package will include details on information governance, including the development of information sharing agreement, as well as interoperability, with vanguards able to access “expertise to design and implement solutions to technical barriers”.

Regarding the relationship with suppliers, vanguards will receive support to create shared frameworks and enable collective market engagement and procurement at scale.

The board papers say the work of the vanguards in this area will be aligned with the upcoming digital test bed sites, which were launched in March this year and are intended to serve as areas to evaluate the impact of new technologies in a real world setting.

NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens discussed the progress of the vanguards during a meeting of the House of Commons’ health committee today, where he said that the sites must bring about change in their local area and produce “generalisable insights that other parts of the health service can then beg, borrow and steal”.

He added that another five vanguard sites to accelerate the implementation of the Urgent and Emergency Care review and to develop new models of collaboration in acute care are due to be announced this week

Support for these extra vanguard types is due to be published by November 2015.