The Department of Health is re-procuring Choose and Book and wants to remove the use of Cerner Millennium so it owns the intellectual property for the system’s functionality.
The current e-booking service is built on an implementation of Cerner’s Millennium product, using the person and scheduling modules.
A Department of Health market engagement exercise document, seen by eHealth Insider, says it is looking to remove dependencies on commercial-off-the-shelf products - specifically Cerner Millennium - for the provision of business functionality and data access.
“We are interested in understanding proposals for how the existing software architecture could be modified to reduce licence/operating/change costs – for example by removal of dependencies on commercial-off-the-shelf products - for the provision of business functionality and data access and adoption of open-source products,” it says.
“The result would be that the NHS will own all the [intellectual property rights] for all Choose and Book business functionality."
The DH document says the new service should also deliver a range of functional enhancements.
Enhanced support for commissioners and referrers could include enhanced reporting capability such as a “forward order book” or dashboards, a referral assessment service, improved training and education and enhanced advice and guidance.
Potential provider changes include referral letters going straight into provider electronic patient record systems, linked referrals and an appointment scheduler that supports 'any qualified provider'.
Enhanced support for the patient would include integration with the patient portal, patient self-referral and better patient communications such as text and email.
In a statement to eHealth Insider, Cerner said it is important that new technology opportunities are explored as part of the re-tender.
“We strongly welcome the government’s decision to explore further flexibility within Choose and Book,” it added.
The current contract for Choose and Book is with Atos Healthcare. The company has come under scrutiny recently by the National Audit Office which investigated its £110m-a-year contract with the Department of Work and Pensions to assess whether people are fit for work.
An NAO report criticises the department for failing to adequately fine Atos for underperformance and not properly checking the accuracy of performance data that the company submitted.
The DH document says Atos will continue to provide the service during procurement and transition up until December 2013.
“We are aiming to conclude market engagement activities by the end of August/ early September, to support completion of business case and procurement delivery activities.”
Choose and Book went live in 2004 and more than 35m referrals have been processed since.
Booking volumes regularly exceed 30,000 per working day and about half of all possible GP to first outpatient referrals are completed using the electronic booking system.
Usage hit a high of 57% in March 2009, but has since been in a decline linked to the end of GP funding for using the booking system.
A DH spokesperson said work is underway to secure a new contract and system for Choose and Book, but no decision on the details has yet been made.
“We are working with clinical commissioning groups, GPs, service providers and patients to help shape the system and ensure it will meet the needs of all,” the DH said.
“We are also continuing to work closely with the NHS to improve the use of Choose and Book so patients can benefit from greater choice and more efficient healthcare.”
© 2012 EHealth Media.
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