The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has issued a stern warning to health IT suppliers that they risk losing business with the NHS if they don’t fully embrace data-sharing by adopting common standards.
In his keynote speech at NHS Expo on 6 September, Matt Hancock said the interest of suppliers “are too often not aligned with the NHS’ interests” and that contracts are “badly managed”, with buyers often being locked-in to long deals that prevent them from shopping elsewhere.
In response, Hancock said he planned to increase the NHS’s in-house capacity to understand the technology behind IT systems, to ensure that staff are able to pick the right functionalities from them by splitting “big contracts into smaller pieces”, with more of a focus on user need.
He then addressed suppliers directly and said: “And I say to suppliers: I’ve heard some horror stories already. I’ve been appalled at some of the tales of blockages, especially in providers of systems for primary care.
“We are going to be extremely robust with any supplier who doesn’t live up to the new standards we are mandating.
“I want all our existing suppliers to come with us on this journey. But if you don’t want to come on this journey, you won’t be supplying IT to the NHS.
“We’re going to buy the right stuff.”
The health secretary also used his speech at the event in Manchester to make reference to mistakes of the past, including the National Programme for IT, though he added that “much has moved on” since the programme ended in 2010.
Hancock said that, given the NHS’s history with IT and technology, he could understand why leadership would “shy away from it”, but he claimed to have their back and said now was the time to “put the failures of the past behind us”.
He said: “Please hear this one message very clearly – I am not looking for people to blame; I am looking for people to lead. We will together drive this chance.
“We will make mistakes, and mis-steps. We will learn the right lessons from them and move on.”
During his speech, Hancock also announced £200 million funding to create additional global digital exemplars as well as confirming the NHS App will be piloted in five areas from October.
10 September 2018 @ 13:57
This is all good stuff and I fully support the intentions behind it. The real problem here is that the suppliers know very well that there are generally no good alternatives to the systems that we have. The Mental Health market is pretty stagnant, and if our system supplier was suddenly told that it “could not sell to the NHS” then this would cause us a massive headache partly because of the need for changing an established system, and partly because the alternatives were not likely to be better.
I think probably incentives are more likely to succeed than levers, but ultimately the suppliers know very well how painful a change of system is and most people won’t do this unless they have absolutely no alternative.
10 September 2018 @ 08:52
I fully agree, it’s important that all suppliers need to be open to data sharing using standards. What frustrates me, though, is the one player who is NEVER at any meeting or conference call about progressing the digital agenda and everyone knows who we’re talking about – from NHS Digital, to Apple. But… I think this narrative is being pointed directly at them…. without saying their name.
The Outlier Insider
10 September 2018 @ 09:10
Er, yep, the Lord Voldemort of Primary Care.
Health Ministers come and go, whereas healthcare IT suppliers have more longevity – perhaps Lord V can keep his head down and take the flak until Mr H gets moved elsewhere…..
10 September 2018 @ 16:20
This comment section needs emojis… [insert crying laughing emoji]
The Outlier Insider
10 September 2018 @ 08:48
EMIS, (UK plc based in Leeds) approx 55% of the UK GP market
TPP (privately owned company, based in Leeds) approx 30% of the UK market
There are no US suppliers in this space, and the one that stuck a toe into a Scottish procurement removed it almost immediately. Ultimately, the US healthcare IT providers are not interested in primary care because it attracts too little funding compared to the acute sector.
Curiously the Chinese (average healthcare spend per capita <$100 per annum) have started using TPP – amusing that such a tech-savvy society is embracing a 20 year-old software.
7 September 2018 @ 21:59
Without having any insight into UK primary care suppliers and therefore not wanting to comment on their qualities as suppliers i would make this observation. The UK has practically no domestic health care IT industry (Relative to its GDP/Population etc.). The only sector that there are any suppliers of any scale is primary care health record systems. The NHS routinely enters into large contracts with US suppliers who have billion dollar revenues (From their own domestic market) or huge multi national consulting firms. Maybe we should adopt the Chinese model and actually look to actively develop our domestic supplier base rather than export all our capital to the USA. We did it with Glaxo – Why not with Health Tech.
From Yes Minister
Now then, Frank here has just discovered this contract for the import of ten million pound’s worth of video display terminals, from America.
May I see? Oh yes.
For the whole Civil Service in Whitehall.
– But they’re not British.
– That is true.
– We make them in this country.
– Not of the same quality.
In my constituency.
– We were advised – This contract must be stopped.
It’s beyond my power.
This can only be cancelled by the Treasury.