Introduction to Capabilities and Standards

What are Capabilities?

The requirements to deliver General Practice Solutions are grouped into Capabilities. Each Capability describes the business need at the highest level. For example, 'Recording Consultations - GP' describes the need for General Practice staff to be able to make a digital record of any consultation with a patient.

Capabilities will be used by:

  • NHS Digital to express the business needs during the procurement

  • NHS Digital for the initial assessment of Solutions for onboarding to the Buying Catalogue

  • Suppliers to categorise their products and to see market opportunities

  • Buyers to search for products that meet their needs on the Buying Catalogue

What are Epics and Acceptance Criteria?

Epics are individual high level business requirements and describe features relevant to the Capabilities they belong to. All Epics together define the full scope of a Capability.

The Acceptance Criteria associated with an Epic define the minimum expected functions a Supplier’s Solution must deliver and are test scenarios that will be used during Capability Assessment stage of Onboarding to establish whether a Supplier’s Solution meets the Epic or not. In order to pass any Epic, all associated Acceptance Criteria for that Epic must pass the assessment.

Epics are classified as either Must or May Epics and all Epics will be assessed during the Capability Assessment stage of Onboarding. It is recommended that Suppliers consider all Epics as part of User Research to understand what the Minimal Viable Product (MVP) is for their users.

Each Epic has a unique identifier which allows for the identification of Epics in a consistent manner, e.g. ‘E00092’.

Must Epics

Must Epics are mandatory and used to confirm during Capability Assessment stage of Onboarding that a Solution delivers the minimum required for a Capability. A Supplier Solution needs to meet all Must Epics in order to Pass Capability Assessment for a Capability unless it is indicated on the Capability that a Partial Pass is acceptable.

If the Capability is identified as a Capability that can either be offered as Full or Partial Capability, at least one Must Epic must be passed for that Capability to be accepted. If all Must Epics of this type of Capability are accepted the Capability will be accepted as a Full Capability; if at least one but not all Must Epics are accepted the Capability will be accepted as a Partial Capability.

May Epics

Describes additional functionality associated with the Capability. These Epics are not mandatory, however it is recommended a Supplier considers all MAY Epics. Which MAY Epics a Supplier chooses to implement should be determined by their User Research. All May Epics and Acceptance Criteria will be evaluated during the Capability Assessment Stage of On-boarding. Any May Epics that are assessed as met will be available to buyers to support them when comparing Solutions on the Buying Catalogue.

What are Additional Implementation Details?

Additional Implementation Details are mandatory details related to a specific Epic and are assessed during the Assurance stage of Onboarding.

These details can include references to other Standards and Suppliers will need to complete assurance activities related to those Standards.

What is Supporting Information?

This information may be useful to Suppliers when implementing the related Epic, but is not mandatory and is for guidance only.

Do I have to build a solution that delivers all Capabilities?

Suppliers do not have to provide a Solution that delivers all Capabilities and are free to design and build Solutions that meet one or more of the Capabilities. By looking at the Capabilities, Suppliers can see where their product portfolio fits, either by making tweaks to existing Solutions where required or building new Solutions to expand the Capabilities that they provide for. For example, Supplier 'A' may build a Solution that delivers 'Document Management', 'Workflow' and 'Patient Information Maintenance - GP' Capabilities, whereas Supplier 'B' may choose to build a Solution that delivers all the Citizen Capabilities.

A set of Foundation Capabilities have been identified which will be the access point for GMS funding. These are a subset of the wider set of Capabilities mandated in the NHS England GP IT Operating Model.  The Foundation Capabilities are clearly identified on the Capabilities and Standards Model.  Suppliers do not have to supply any of the Foundation Capabilities and can choose to provide one or more.  Buyers will have to take all of the Foundation Capabilities in order to access central funding.

What are Standards?

Standards describe the technical or operating conditions required to achieve Catalogue Compliance.

Standards will be used by:

  • NHS Digital to express any technical and non-functional requirements

  • Suppliers to understand what is expected of them in order to be compliant and to onboard onto the Buying Catalogue

  • NHS Digital Solution Assurance to assess Supplier Solutions against in order to award compliance

  • Buyers to assess various Suppliers against each other (levels of compliance) for competitive procurements

Capabilities and Standards Model

The Capabilities and Standards are structured in the model below.

  • There are a set of Overarching Standards that are applicable to all supplier Solutions (e.g. Information Governance Standard)

  • There are Capabilities to describe the business needs at the highest level

  • There are Standards specific to certain Capabilities to mandate specialist functionality such as Capability specific data extracts or services (e.g. Primary Care Clinical Terminology Usage Report and eMED3 (Fit Notes))

  • There are Interoperability Standards which contain requirements applicable to all Solutions and some that are only applicable to certain Capabilities

See Capability and Standards Structure page for more detail on the structure and content of Capabilities and Standards.