Digital Primary Care

Digital systems are the foundation upon which we will build a modern, efficient and responsive health service. Enabling information to flow between care providers within and beyond organisational boundaries, and between care providers and patients, is a key means by which we will achieve a safe, convenient and personalised health and care service.

GP IT systems sit at the heart of primary care technology facilitating and recording millions of interactions with patients every week. GP practices have led the way in the move from paper to digital record-keeping and are now well on the way to offering online transactions, such as appointment bookings and repeat prescriptions, across all practices in England. By April 2015, all practices will offer online access for patients to elements of their GP-held records.

In a challenging financial environment, IT services must not only improve the quality of care through enhancing the patients’ experience of services, but also enable the practice to realise efficiency benefits such as a reduced administrative burden. Building on the solid foundations which are already in place in primary care, NHS England will support practices to develop IT functionality which responds to the evolving needs of patients and underpins integration across care pathways.

The GP IT Operating Model 2016-18

In May 2016, NHS England published Securing Excellence in GP IT Services: Operating Model 3rd edition (2016-18) which updates and revises the operating model published in April 2014. The revised operating model describes the financial operating arrangements, assurance process and leadership required to support the effective delivery of GP IT services.

Recognising GP IT as fundamental in underpinning delivery of the ambitions outlined within the General Practice Forward View (GPFV), the revised operating model includes expanded core and mandated GP IT requirements – making it clear what general practice should be able to expect from IT service delivery arrangements, together with driving digital adoption through maturity assurance, providing a new maturity assurance framework to assess progress towards digital adoption – the Digital Primary Care Maturity Assurance model.

Enhanced and transformational service categories have been introduced that would support seven day and extended hours working and ‘at scale’ models, together with supporting new and innovative healthcare models, where multiple organisations across care settings are working with general practice to share patient care.

Additional materials and guidance to support the implementation of the revised GP IT operating arrangements are available:

The 2016 operating model supports the case for change set out by the Five Year Forward View, and moves us closer towards the National Information Board’s vision of an integrated, paper-free health and care economy. The arrangements will continue to give general practices a choice of world class clinical IT systems, tailored to local requirements that meet the changing needs of the service.

As part of the revised GP IT Operating Model, Securing Excellence in GP IT 2016-18, 3rd edition, NHS England has developed an outcomes-based digital maturity assurance tool that will support CCGs, GPs and NHSE DCO/Regional Leads by demonstrating progress towards digital capability and maturity across General Practice.

Digital Primary Care Maturity Assurance Model

The Digital Primary Care Maturity Assurance (DPC MA) module within the Primary Care Web Tool (PCWT) will provide a user friendly mechanism for Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), General Practices (GPs) and NHS England national and regional teams to review current levels of digital maturity across general practice against the requirements outlined within the GP IT Operating Model.

This can be used to provide CCGs as the main commissioners of GP IT services, with timely intelligence to support effective commissioning, enable targeted investment, together with providing insight into progress in other areas which will support peer learning from sharing what is working well. The DPC MA will also support the development of Local Digital Roadmaps (LDR) and Sustainability & Transformation Plans (STP), helping to identify areas for further investment.

CCGs, GPs and Regional Director of Commissioning Operations (DCO) Teams may already have access to the PCWT, which is used for a number of purposes.

Anyone with an email account is able to register to access the DPC MA module, which was launched on June 16. Anyone wishing to register for access can do so by visiting, and selecting “register” at the top of the screen.

How the Digital Primary Care Maturity Assurance Model can benefit CCGs

The DPC MA Module can benefit CCGs by providing timely insight that will:

  • Support the re-procurement of GP IT service provision via the Lead Provider Framework
  • Demonstrate progress against the digital requirements outlined within the CCG Improvement and Assessment Framework
  • Inform the development of Local Digital Roadmaps (LDRs) and Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), helping identify areas for further investment
  • Enable comparison of digital maturity within Primary Care against secondary care, as highlighted in the Digital Maturity Index (DMI) assessment of secondary care

NHS England held a series of open webinars during the summer 2016, for stakeholders interested in learning more about the DPC MA module and the functionality that is available. For those who did not have the opportunity to attend, please see below the recording of the webinar and accompanying slides.

How the Digital Primary Care Maturity Assurance Model can benefit General Practice

The General Practice Forward View (GPFV) highlights the greater use of digital technology to enhance patient care and experience, as well as streamline practice processes. The DPC MA Module will support General Practice, by providing insight into digital maturity across Primary Care that will:

  • Demonstrate progress against core GP IT services, as outlined in the GP IT Operating Model providing assurance that CCG’s are meeting the requirements of the GPIT Operating Model in the effective delivery of GP IT services
  • Identify areas for investment in GP IT services and digital innovations that supports delivery of primary care at scale, extended hours/7 days working and changing models of care
  • Baseline service provision enabled through technology against other general practices/localities to maximise efficiencies Support CQC assessment by providing insight into the use of digital technology within the practice, to help meet patient need and improve delivery of clinical services
  • Demonstrate progress against GMS/PMS/APMS digital requirements

The GPFV proposes developments within the practice infrastructure to improve the current technology capabilities to meet the needs of primary care staff, these include: