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GPs to be paid to offer patients digital apps to manage long-term conditions

GPs will be able to get direct reimbursement from NHS England for using certain new technology in patient treatment starting next year.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said today that the Innovation and Technology Tariff, which is already available to hospital trusts, would be expanded to primary care from April 2018.

In secondary care, the tariff currently covers six medical inventions, including an app that allows patients to manage their COPD at home.

A license to use the COPD app costs £20 per patient, with NHS England paying for the app for 20% of the total patient population with a diagnosis of severe or very severe COPD in each CCG. But under the current system only community and secondary care clinicians are able to request a reimbursement.

Mr Stevens said at the Health and Care Innovation Expo conference that NHS England has received more than 230 applications to the programme with new devices that could be covered under the expansion of the tariff. 

NHS England launched its call for applications in June, with a deadline of 8 September, and accepted applications from healthcare commissioners and providers, academics and those in the technology industry and the voluntary sector.

Mr Stevens said the tariff ‘is a very simple idea that the best innovations would get reimbursed directly to cut out the faff and the transactional hassle of getting them into mainstream clinical practice’.

He added that the tariff has been a success so far, with 25,000 patients managing their COPD from home.