Technology companies are being challenged to develop new and innovative systems after the tender for the GP IT Futures Framework is issued.

In a speech at The King’s Fund’s Digital Health and Care Congress Matt Hancock said he believed the framework will create an open, competitive market to encourage the best technology companies to invest in the NHS.

In practice, this will mean supplying cloud-based, modern systems that can share life-saving patient information seamlessly and securely – from GPs to hospitals and social care settings.

According to Digital Health Intelligence, the value of the contract is estimated at around £484million and is scheduled until 31 December 2020.

Hancock said: “I believe it should be as easy for a GP surgery to switch IT provider as it is for a small business to switch bank accounts.

“Under the new contract, providers will have to follow our standards on interoperability and data access. Systems will need to be continuously upgradeable. Patient data will need to be securely hosted in the cloud.

“Sick patients should not be having to explain ‘why are you here’ for the umpteenth time every time they meet a new clinician, or carting round bulging folders of notes from appointment to appointment.

“Your medical records should be accessible from wherever you are the NHS, just as you can get to your emails from any device.”

Digital Health News has previously reported on how the framework will replace the outgoing GP Systems of Choice (GPSoC) agreement and will provide a contract vehicle for GPs, CCGs and other NHS Digital customers to purchase IT systems and services.

The secretary of state for health and social care added: “The new contract will help us deliver on that goal and will be in force from January.

“It’s an iterative process and we’ll continue to improve the approach to make sure it meets needs.

“We can only build the NHS of the future on safe, secure systems that we can rely on and we can trust.

It is hoped the changes will allow GPs to choose the best technologies to meet their needs, to improve efficiency and will enable more patients to take control of their care, including through accessing digital services such as video consultations.

The framework will also challenge the current market, which is currently dominated by two suppliers and replies on long-term contracts.

Masood Nazir, NHS England’s senior responsible officer for primary care digital transformation, said “GP IT Futures will enable the continued and future delivery of clinical IT systems to all general practices in England. It supports the ambitions set out in the NHS Long Term Plan for digital primary care.

“Technology is a key enabler of quality, safety, efficiency and positive experience. A digital first approach to primary care will become a right for patients to choose. NHS Digital is working to secure the latest standards-based technologies to enable this in the most effective and efficient way into General Practice.”