NHS Digital comissioned OpusVL to develop a usage and time-based billing solution to automate tri-party billing. This now underpins the 'GP IT Futures' programme, invoicing 200 centrally-funded services from 70 suppliers to 7,500 GPs.

The client

NHS Digital is the National information and technology partner to the health and care system, using digital technology to transform the NHS and social care.

The brief

Our joint project goal was to create a time-based billing system that automatically accounts for any changes that would happen throughout a contract, processing the highest resolution data in real-time therefore reducing the need for later adjustments.

"OpusVL understood what we wanted. We asked for an invoicing solution, not your standard implementation of an invoicing package."

In the past, suppliers and customers would use the GP System of Choice (GPSoC) process which relied on spreadsheet data being sent to the NHS Digital finance team for aggregation and load.

Finance operations involved issuing forecasted invoices to suppliers ahead of time, then processing GP submitted data, when available, to apply debit or credit adjustments retrospectively.

"OpusVL are experts in open source with Odoo. The use of open source technology is something the NHS is ready to embrace. Simply because it makes interfacing to it from the outside world much easier because it is open standards."

We understood that this shouldn't be a short-term solution, but strategic, which NHS Digital and the health and social care sector could have control over and build upon for years to come, created and implemented using the Open Digital Approach.

The delivery

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the project was successfully delivered and went live in summer 2020.

"All we really wanted was subject matter experts who could look at our concept and create a solution to the problem, and that’s why OpusVL won it. They fitted that bracket. They demonstrated their ability to look at an idea or concept and create a viable solution at a reasonable cost."

Most importantly, we delivered it in a way that was open, where NHS Digital had full say over the final product and collaborated through every part of the process.

"OpusVL were very open. We didn’t expect anything to be easy because it is a complicated system and a challenging timescale for delivery. We have worked through it together – with a shared objective of a successful system. There has been flexibility and OpusVL have stuck with it, provided the resources, commitment, good will and grace to carry on working to delivery."

The outcome

As a result of the automation delivered through this project, 5-10 staff were redeployed to other key areas of NHS Digital.

Furthermore, this solution creates the future opportunity for customer and supplier self-service in real-time, reducing the need for the GP-IT finance team to aggregate and load data. This means that data is self-managed in real time, speeding up the process, increasing accuracy and saving further administration.

The GP-IT project is now in third phase of iterative developments, generating further value to all parties and on course to process over £100m per year.

"OpusVL were extremely pragmatic – they were very engaging, flexible – nothing was too much trouble. If there was an issue, they came back to the table quite quickly with a solution. The way they engaged with us was quite refreshing and also at a very senior level."

Built on the Open Digital Approach, NHS Digital has full autonomy over this system and this technology will be continuously improved throughout its lifespan. This also opens up the opportunity for future iterations to be implemented throughout the health and care sector.

"It’s been an interesting dynamic to see how an organisation such as OpusVL deals with a beast like the NHS. I have to say they’ve come to the table really, really well with this. We can be a bit demanding and OpusVL managed to satisfy us. They’ve done really well responding to us as we needed. There have been hiccups, but it is how you recover from these and OpusVL have been excellent at that."