Chris Netherton, M.D.

Microtest welcomes the new GP IT Futures framework - improving tomorrow's healthcare


I was delighted to see Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock’s recent announcement that the government plans to put IT technology at the heart of healthcare in the NHS. The new GP IT Futures framework will shake up the way IT technology is procured and developed. It also aims to make it easier for innovative smaller companies to punch above their weight.

At Microtest, this is something we have long been championing. We were the first clinical IT supplier to sign up to GP Connect and our award-winning Guru software is the most advanced patient sharing system in the UK. We are currently in the process of transforming our cloud hosted core system, Open Evolution, into a web-based system which we believe will be the most future proof and the most intuitive system available in the country.

There are five key new items highlighted within Matt Hancock’s statement. At Microtest, we are already well on the way to delivering against all of them.

    1. The new GP IT Futures framework will see patient data moved to more modern cloud services to allow clinicians and patients to securely access what can be crucial, life-saving information in real time.

      This is a core tenet of our new Open Evolution. We are in the midst of a massive programme delivering cloud based Open Evolution employing the latest cutting edge technology and based on the very latest standards. This is indeed the key to allowing clinicians and patients to securely access patient data in real time. Our experience with Guru has shown that having access to up to date patient information across different settings can save lives whilst also saving time.

    2. By 2023/24 it wants every patient in England to be able to access a GP services digitally, with practices able to offer online or video consultations.

      With increasing time pressures on GP surgeries and a customer base that is increasingly IT savvy, it makes total sense to offer online or video consultations. Especially for people living in remote rural communities, people without transport, people who are less mobile, and for people who cannot easily take time out to visit a surgery, the facility for online or video consultations could be a game changer. Apart from already integrating with leading subsidiary companies, this is an area which Microtest have been prioritising and we expect to be at the forefront of this exciting development.

    3. The next generation of IT services for primary care must give more patients easy access to all key aspects of their medical record.

      Microtest’s Waiting Room software already offers patients easy online access to virtually their whole medical record. We will be working closely with NHS England and NHS Wales to roll out further enhancements to this.

    4. IT suppliers must comply with new technology standards to ensure that we can integrate patient records across primary care, secondary care and social care.

      Seamless integration of patient records across all settings is of paramount importance. This is an area where Microtest has been leading the way for many years and you can see many examples of record sharing in our case studies section. Hospital clinicians and GPs have experienced real time savings, leading to improved patient care.

    5. NHS England intend to strengthen quality controls and service standards, and dramatically improve the ease with which GPs can migrate from one supplier to another.

      We welcome improved standards in this area. It is very important that it is easy for GPs to migrate from one supplier to another and this help to ensure that all suppliers raise their game, improving standards overall. We are currently in the process of arranging a smooth transition for 139 GP practices in Wales that have decided to migrate to Microtest, so we have considerable current experience of the issues involved.

    So at Microtest, we are excited by the direction that Matt Hancock is taking. We are fully prepared to rise to the challenges set by and we relish the opportunity to do so.