Further suppliers for online primary care services during Covid-19 revealed

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Another batch of successful bidders in NHS England’s accelerated tender for online primary care services have been named.

Last week Digital Health News broke the news that 11 suppliers had been selected to provide GP video consultations to help the NHS cope during the coronavirus outbreak.

They were selected from a group of 33 trusted suppliers from the NHS England’s Dynamic Purchasing System Framework.

Suppliers were asked to bid on five lots, including text messaging, video consultations and automated triage.

The successful bidders for the video consultation and “customisable” lots were reported last week. Now, NHS England has confirmed the successful bidders for the three other lots: automated triage, free text, and templated.

Engage Health Systems and eConsult were selected to provide the “templated” lot, which will signpost patients with suspected Covid-19 to appropriate services after they’ve answered a series of yes/no questions.

Questions are set by the supplier’s system based on clinical protocols developed by the supplier, according to NHS England documents.

The automated triage lot, which will provide a patient with a course of action based on a verified, clinically-based decision pathway or algorithm, was awarded to Doctorlink, EMIS and Sensely’s Ask NHS.

“The automated triage tool will direct the patient to self-care or to other services or send the online consultation to the practice for action,” the documents state.

“The tool will take account of the latest clinical advice on Covid-19 and, for example, will not recommend a face-to-face appointment for a patient with symptoms suggestive of Covid-19.”

Rupert Spiegelberg, chief executive of Doctorlink, said: “Covid-19 is accelerating the need for healthcare systems to deploy scaleable technologies to ensure people can get access to healthcare in a timely fashion.

“Doctorlink is honoured to be part of the solution and combined with its online symptom assessment service will be working day and night in the coming days and weeks to supporting the NHS get this technology in to the hands of frontline GPs.”

No suppliers were successful in bidding for the “free text” lot, which would allow patients to describe their symptoms instead of answering a yes/no or checkbox format.

Eleven have been chosen to provide video consultation services across the country. Each supplier has been told they will be working with a number Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), but the exact regions are yet to be confirmed.

The tender was sent out by NHS England National Commercial Procurement Hub to its approved suppliers online consultations, which includes the likes of Babylon, PushDoctor, Ada Health, EMIS, LIVI and Visiba Care.

It’s not known whether big names like Babylon, which is noticeably absent from the selected suppliers, bid on the tender.

NHS Digital has also fast-tracked assurance of video products on the new Digital Care Services Framework (DCSF).

Products from the tender and the DCSF will be centrally funded, it confirmed.

For more information on the assured video consultation products available via the Digital Care Services Framework (GPIT Futures), please visit NHS Digital’s website.

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