Contract Basics Series 2: Contract Formation - Inadvertently creating binding contractual obligations
Welcome to the second of our series of simple briefings aiming to highlight some of the more common issues relating to contracting.
Published 4 September 2015
Following on from the NHS Five Year Forward View, and as the NHS begins to develop new payment models designed to incentivise the collaborative behaviours necessary to realise the ambitions of integrated care across the NHS, health technology enthusiasts and IT providers within the health sector have never been better placed to benefit from the changing landscape in the NHS.
Well, because the new payment models that are currently under development are, to a significant extent, dependent upon highly sophisticated historical spending and cost data analysis. They are also reliant on complex forward modelling involving the appropriate application of weightings, annual growth rates and efficiency factors and consideration of suitable gain/share mechanisms.
More fundamentally, they are predicated upon the ability to link patient-level data across all types of care and care setting. And to cap it all off, as the new payment arrangements 'bed in' and become the "new normal" in the NHS, there will doubtless be calls for their structural form and the underlying pricing they govern to then be benchmarked against other areas to ensure that they remain fit for purpose and good value.
As few health economies currently have the technical capabilities that will be needed, at a patient-level, for the interrogation, extraction, organisation and management of the data required to fully inform the development of the new payment models, it is hard to see how sensible and meaningful information can actually be derived from the existing raw data, without the adoption of new systems to facilitate that process.
And let's not forget, of course, implementation of the integration agenda, as a whole. As we have commented previously, technology has the most fundamental part to play in transforming our existing health and care sector: from the simple improvement of patient experience to smoother care pathways, more informed clinical decision-making, enhanced patient safety, more personalised care, better and more efficient working practices and improved choice and convenience in accessing and receiving care.
Add to that the upcoming alliance between the use of technology and the new payment drivers, designed to incentivise most of the foregoing, and it seems to us that opportunities for technology within the NHS have never been better.