Primary Care Networks will be a grouping of GP practices, typically covering a population of 30,000-50,000 people. By July 2019, it is expected that all areas of England will be served by a Primary Care Network.
The BMA suggests that they should be ‘small enough to still provide the personal care valued by both patients and GP practices, but large enough to have impact and economies of scale through deeper collaboration between practices and others in the local health and social care system’.
In the future PCNs are expected to become a larger more inclusive primary care team, with practices expected to work with Community Trusts, the voluntary sector and other agencies.
From 2020 PCNs will be expected to assess risk of ‘unwarranted health outcomes’ and work with community services to support people most in need.
Therefore significant new clinical, technical and IT responsibilities will fall on practices and PCNs, who will need to evaluate their current readiness to provide such services and their capabilities to disseminate such information across their networks and beyond.
Short lead times will mitigate against complex IT projects and instead a proven off-the-shelf product will be the only solution to effect such a radical change in current working practices.
PCNs will therefore need to make the best use of technology to improve efficiency, maximise income and strengthen their workforce.
Experience has shown that such efficiencies are achieved through centralised management and administrative activities, standardised and streamlined operating processes, to improve performance.
In particular, the use of sharing technology such as TeamNet contributes to this sustainability through clinical, training and administrative functions and underpins the delivery of new forms of access.
There are many unanswered questions regarding PCNs. It is however clear that a vehicle for sharing, collaboration and communicating with all stakeholders will be a vital component of any successful PCN. TeamNet is here to help and has a proven track record moving organisations from ‘problem identified’ to ‘problem solved’.
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