NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) is planning to set up a dynamic purchasing system (DPS) framework to support the adoption of AI and extended reality technologies in healthcare.
It has published a prior information notice for potential suppliers on a Healthtech Innovation Gateway estimating the value of the framework at up to £150 million.
It would be underpinned by the DPS and a ‘service wrap’ – which it plans to procure – to help technology companies navigate the NHS buying landscape.
This indicates that the initial focus will be on health related AI and extended reality – which incorporates augmented, virtual and mixed reality – but that additional categories could be added to the DPS over time.
Details of the lot structure for the DPS are yet to be decided.
The notice says a broad range of techniques could be used to create AI systems to carry out or augment health and care tasks until now completed by humans. This could take in areas including robotic process automation, natural language processing, inductive logic programming and distributed AI.
Extended reality is described as enabling a digital layer on top of the real world ranging from small changes in the physical environment to entire simulated worlds.
The Evidence Standards Framework for Digital Health Technologies, developed by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), indicates that both technologies can be used for diagnosing and treating medical conditions, guiding care choices, helping people manage their own health and saving time and costs in the services.
NHS SBS said it will align details of the DPS to the NICE classification of technologies.
The potential for AI in healthcare was recently highlighted by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency winning funding for two projects exploring the use of the technology in clinical trials, and the NHS AI Lab developing a model for research into Parkinson’s Disease.
Plans for another framework to support the procurement of AI in the wider public sector were recently revealed by the Crown Commercial Service.