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Primary Care Networks and opportunities in ICSs

31 August 2021


  • Primary Care

The NHS Confederation recently released a report on Primary Care Networks (PCNs) to consider how they are working two years after their introduction. It examines the challenges faced and the opportunities which lie ahead.  

In this blog, we’re going to look specifically at the opportunities PCNs have in Integrated Care Systems (ICSs).  


PCNs and ICSs 


Population health management takes centre stage in the transition to ICSs. Because PCNs work so closely with patients and aim to tackle health inequalities, it means that they are vital in the formation and success of ICSs. 

In another report, The Role of Primary Care in Integrated Care Systems, the PCN Network outlined 5 key requirements for primary care to engage effectively in system working: 

  1. Collective voice and representation for primary care at system level
  2. Processes and structures for primary care at place 
  3. System priorities that reflect local neighbourhood needs 
  4. Systems that promote collaboration 
  5. Enablers, including investment in primary care leadership capacity and capability, and financial certainty 

If these requests are carried out, there will be a requirement for new and innovative technology to support them.  


Making the best use of technology 


We’ve seen that COVID-19 has accelerated the use of technology in the healthcare world, including PCNs and primary care as a whole. This is a great step in the right direction as technology is a valuable tool in driving healthcare forward. There are further opportunities to embed technology across PCNs and primary care, as well as ICSs to promote system working. According to the Primary care networks: two years on report, 64% of clinical directors and PCN managers agree there are significant opportunities to expand the use of digital channels. 

These opportunities could include technology for providing patient-centred care, integrating workforce and managing patient demand. However, simply having the right technology isn’t enough, it must be used to its full potential too. For example, not just collecting and analysing data, but also allowing these findings to drive ICS strategy.  

If this were to happen, the report recommends that there would need to be a similar adoption of technology across the system as has happened in primary care, and for care to be designed around the patient. Everyone will need to prioritise population health management, with decisions created around the results of data and analysis at neighbourhood level.  


The NHS Confederation are asking NHS England and NHS Improvement and government to consider: 

  • Placing responsibilities on each ICS to develop a system-wide strategic plan for infrastructure provision and usage, including IT 
  • Placing responsibilities on each ICS to develop a system-wide, strategic plan for data, analytics and business intelligence provision and usage 


Where Radar Healthcare comes in 


Radar Healthcare is a quality, compliance and risk management software built by healthcare professionals for healthcare professionals. Our system is ideal for both primary care and Integrated Care Systems, capable of supporting every area to work collaboratively, while making intelligent use of data and information to drive decisions. 


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