New procurement framework for online consultations and video consultations

The Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) for online consultations was established to support the online consultations initiative, and it included an approved online and video consultation supplier list. A new framework is currently being established which reflects the development of the online consultation market and changes to the standards and requirements expected from supplier products. The new framework will sit under the Digital Care Services Catalogue and the DPS will be wound down.

Online consultations rapid procurement in response to COVID-19

As part of the response to COVID-19, all practices were asked to move to a total triage model<https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2020/03/C0098-total-triage-blueprint-september-2020-v3.pdf> to protect patients and staff from avoidable risks of infection. Total triage means that every patient contacting the practice is first triaged before deciding what steps need to be taken to support that patient. Total triage is important to reduce avoidable footfall into practices and protect patients and staff from the risks of infection. While total triage can be carried out entirely by telephone, this is less efficient than using an online consultation system to support the triage process. To support practices to move to total triage, a rapid procurement for online consultations was run nationally against the DPS for online consultation, enabling STPs/CCGs to call off online consultation and video consultation solutions without the need for a mini competition.

New procurement framework and DPS to close down

A new procurement route for online consultation and video consultation solutions via the Digital Care Services Catalogue is currently being established by NHS Digital, and is due to launch in March 2021. This will be available for commissioners to buy nationally assured online consultation and video consultation products for general practice, with the intention that this framework will include all products currently in use. This new arrangement will bring together the requirements for these systems into a single set of consistent requirements and standards. Online consultations and video consultations will be treated as separate capabilities and suppliers will be able to offer one or the other or both.

Procurement undertaken via the new framework will benefit from achieving greater consistency across digital solutions as well as improved clarity on the product(s) being offered by different suppliers. The framework will also support better integration between GP clinical systems and online consolation and video consultation systems. Once the new framework has been established under the Digital Care Services Catalogue, the DPS will be closed down.