NHS England recently proposed changes to the NHS provider license, with the draft consultation including a digital baseline maturity requirement among the conditions that healthcare providers must meet.
The consultation period for the draft has now closed, but here HTN take a closer look at the role of digital within the drafted provider license.
“Many of the changes we propose to the provider license reflect these national expectations on how providers will work collaboratively within systems (including at place, and via provider collaboratives) to improve outcomes, tackle inequalities, ensure value for money, and support broader social and economic development,” the document states.
Among the changes is a need to “[reflect] digital obligations to ensure system working and promote digital maturity” through a new license condition and a separate amendment to the governance conditions.
The proposal suggests the introduction of a “new condition on NHS trusts and foundation trusts to comply with information standards published under s250 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 as they pertain to co-operation and the Triple Aim and to comply with required levels of digital maturity as set out in the guidance published by NHS England”. In addition, it indicated a need to add “additional requirements for the Licensee to have appropriate systems and processes in place to meet guidance on digital maturity”.
Adherence to the digital maturity requirements as set out in What Good Looks Like is noted to be “part of good system working and corporate governance” and a key enabler of wider digital transformation, which is “key to delivering safe, effective and efficient care”.
The document acknowledges early engagement concerns around potential costs in complying with digital expectations. “It is important that organisations are able to prioritise resourcing of digital capabilities to support compliance with standards,” it notes. “NHS England is simplifying access to national digital funding in line with Who Pays For What and launching support offers to help boards prioritise digital needs and make beneficial investments.”
It also acknowledges the need for provider and vendor cooperation and states that this will be “taken into consideration by NHS England when considering support needs”.
Assessing the anticipated impact of these changes, NHS England writes: “2022/23 NHS priorities and operational planning guidance includes support to level up digital maturity, and ensure core level of digitisation and infrastructure. This also supports the NHS Long Term Plan to have digitally-enabled care go mainstream”.