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GPs should have contractual duty to get ‘10% of patients using online services’



GPs should have a contractual requirement to boost the percentage of patients using online services to book appointments and check test results by 10% each year from next year, according to a Government-commissioned report on NHS IT.

The recommendation for a 10% annual increase from April 2017 is included in a presentation to be delivered by Baroness Martha Lane Fox, who health secretary Jeremy Hunt tasked with developing ‘practical proposals’ for increasing uptake of digital innovations earlier this year.

It is intended to boost uptake of digital services which GPs have been contractually required to provide since April 2015.

NHS England said it would be looking to implement these proposals in full.

New requirements to provide online access to all coded information in the GP record become contractual from April 2016, but the requirement did not specify standards for patients’ uptake of the service.

The presentation, to the National Information Board Leadership Summit, states: ‘Every GP practice should have at least 10% of its registered patients using online services by March 2017… and aim to increase patient registration for online services by 10% each following year.’ 

It recommends work should take place to ‘take forward inclusion in GMS contract’ between January and March 2016.

From April to June they will look to work with GPs and patients to ‘understand barriers to take-up’, and later in the year should develop systems for tracking GPs’ progress, and potentially publish this on NHS Choices in 2017.

It is not clear how a conract requirement would be implemented, but an NHS England said it could involve training and mentorship programmes for staff to ensure they’re confident in recommending technologies.

A spokesperson for NHS England told Pulse that these were recommendations being put forward and ‘nothing was set in stone’.

Other recommendations from Baroness Lane Fox include free wi-fi in every NHS building, which NHS England has previously said would include GP practices, and a focus to ensure older patients or those less likely to adopt new technologies are engaged with.

In a statement released prior to the presentation Jeremy Hunt said: ‘Creating an NHS which is digitally fit for purpose in the 21st Century is a key priority for this Government.’

Baroness Lane Fox said: ‘In the network age, universality, equity and quality must be at the very centre of how we build, adopt and scale new technologies in health. No-one must be left behind.”

NHS England’s national director for patients and information Tim Kelsey told the National Information Board (NIB): ’The plan is for now us to review the recommendations in real detail and come back to the NIB in March with proposals on how we’re going to execute them.’

He added: ’I’m confident that we will be delivering on all these recommendations, in full.’