NHSX market engagement opens for dental services tech

NHSX has opened a market engagement exercise to develop an understanding of the possible solutions available to dental services.

The information gathering process, in the form of a questionnaire, is seeking to understand the current maturity of suppliers in the market and the ability to meet the digital capabilities of NHSX’s Digital Pharmacy, Optometry, Dentistry, Ambulance, and community (PODAC) programme.

It’s open for interested suppliers to complete ahead of a deadline of 10th January 2022, with an anticipated future procurement process to launch in the new year.

In the notice, NHSX said: “Our ambition is to improve the digital maturity of general and community dentistry to comparable levels of other sectors; to develop and test interoperability standards to enable integration with wider clinical information systems; and to standardise e-referral pathways so that patients have the same experience no matter what type of care they need.

“There has been fantastic digital progress in dentistry, including the increased use of remote consultations, digital interfaces for patients including online self-referral and booking and text reminders, development of Referral Management Systems (RMS) and digital triage of referrals using digital image transfer.”

However, the notice highlights some key challenges in the sector, which include “a lack of system and interoperability standards” and a “limited market for referral management systems”, said to “stifle competition and innovation”.

Suppliers are being invited to cover a range of solution types, including:

  • To test and roll-out electronic prescriptions and exemption checking
  • Working with NHSX bookings and referrals programme to develop national standards and procurement routes for electronic referral management systems (and related appointment booking capability)
  • To test and roll-out access to GP-held clinical information (e.g., via access to Summary Care Records or GP Connect)
  • Development of clinical terminology standards
  • Development of interoperability standards and standardisation of practice management systems
  • Development of standardised e-referral pathways for urgent, routine and specialist dental care including support for development of national image transfer standards and consideration of ‘digital consent’ for hand-off of patients between professionals so that patients have a seamless experience.

NHSX said the information gathering process will help inform the PODAC commercial strategy and any possible future procurement process.

The deadline to complete the questionnaire is 17.00 on 10th January 2022. For further information, please click here.