Capability and Standards Overview

A buyer introduction to capabilities and standards


The terminology used below assumes that the reader has familiarised themselves with some key Digital Care Services concepts available via the following guidance / tutorials:


What is a capability?

Within GP IT Futures functional requirements are expressed at the highest level as capabilities (e.g. Recording Consultations). Each capability includes the following:

Description: A brief description of the capability's scope.

Outcomes: The key business outcomes encompassed by the capability.

Epics: A capability comprises one or more epics (i.e. user stories). Each epic has a brief description and one or more acceptance criteria (i.e. the criteria that must be met in order to evidence that a Catalogue Solution provides the function(s) encompassed by the epic.

The use of capabilities is intended to allow suppliers to innovate due to the less prescriptive nature of the requirements expression and to segment the requirements in a way that is meaningful for buyers.

An example of the Record Consultations capability description, outcomes and an epic are provided below to illustrate.

Capability description

Supports the standardised recording of Consultations and other General Practice activities. Also supports the extraction of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) data for the FGM data set.

Capability outcomes

For a Patient:

There is a detailed and standardised history of consultations including those between Healthcare Professionals that supports more efficient and timely diagnosis and treatment.

For General Practice:

Standardised recording and maintenance of accurate Consultation data. Enable timely and efficient access to Consultation data to support Patient care and safety.

For the wider NHS and social care system:

Enabling Healthcare Professionals from a variety of services and settings to access accurate and detailed Consultation data in support of decision making and provision of Patient services.

Epic description: C15E1 - record Consultation information

As a Practice User

I want to record the information associated with a Consultation

So that the Consultation is recorded

Epic Acceptance criterion 1: record Consultation information

Given the Practice User is permitted to record Consultations

When the Practice User chooses to record information associated with a Consultation

Then the Consultation is recorded.

The following capabilities are referred to as foundation capabilities and are important to understand as they represent a gateway into the receipt of GMS funding 

  • Appointments management - GP
  • GP referral management
  • GP resource management
  • Patient information maintenance
  • Prescribing
  • Recording consultations.

In addition to the predefined capabilities, suppliers can define Productivity Capabilities for functions that are applicable to primary care, but are not encompassed by the predefined capabilities. These productivity capabilities will be grouped into themes and the Catalogue Solutions mapping to them will be available via the Catalogue

What are capabilities used for?

Capabilities will be used by:

  • NHS Digital to express the business functions within the scope of GP IT Futures
  • Suppliers to map their Catalogue Solutions to the capabilities and epics within those capabilities i.e. it allows suppliers to describe the functional scope of their solutions using a standardised language
  • NHS Digital to assure catalogue solutions – see here for more detail
  • Suppliers to understand the scope of solutions that may be offered via GP IT Futures and to see market opportunities
  • Buyers to search for Catalogue Solutions that meet their needs on the Buying Catalogue, where the needs are expressed using the capabilities / epics.

What are Standards?

Standards describe the technical or operating conditions applicable to Catalogue Solutions. The following different classifications of Standard are used in GP IT Futures:

Overarching Standards: These apply to all capabilities and therefore all solutions (e.g. the Clinical Safety Standard).

Context Specific Standards: These apply to one or more specific capabilities (e.g. the Interoperability Standard).

Capability Specific Standards: Many capabilities have one of these standards. These standards express additional functional requirements for the capability.

What are Standards used for?

Standards will be used by:

  • NHS Digital to express the technical or operating conditions applicable to capabilities and to drive the technical maturity and interoperability objectives of GP IT Futures
  • NHS Digital to assure catalogue solutions meet the applicable Standards – see here for more detail

For more detail on the Capabilities and Standards Model see here