How to use the DTAC

For buyers and those considering digital health technologies

Digital health technologies that are being considered by NHS or social care organisations should be assessed against the Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC), regardless of procurement route, by the NHS or social care organisation that is buying the product.

To assess the product, you will need to ask the developer to complete the DTAC by responding to the question set and providing the evidence required.

Embedding the DTAC question set within procurement and due diligence processes will ensure that products can be assessed quickly, consistently and that only those that meet baseline safety are adopted and scaled thus providing safeguards in critical areas.

DTAC does not seek to introduce new requirements for the procurement of technology. It brings together legislation and recognised good practice into one place covering clinical safety, data protection, technical assurance, interoperability and usability and accessibility.

The DTAC also includes company information and value proposition sections for context. Each of the scored and assessed sections contain:

  • a reference code for each question
  • the question for the developer to respond to
  • whether evidence is required and is so the evidence
  • response options or free text
  • supporting information and guidance
  • scoring criteria

It is important, as with any procurement, that those with relevant subject matter expertise are involved in the assessment of digital health technologies, for example the clinical safety section.

Whilst DTAC is intended to be a ‘one size fits all’ baseline criteria in terms of safety and security it is intended to be part of procurement - it is not intended to be the complete question set for procurements and should be supplemented with additional specifications including any policy and regulatory requirements. Those buying digital health technologies should also ensure that they consider efficacy and the impact and evidence of such technologies. NHSX is working with NICE to build on the Evidence Standards Framework for digital health technologies. This is a framework that describes the level of evidence needed to demonstrate effectiveness and value for digital technologies that have different functions and risks.

NHSX holds regular sessions for buyers and those considering buying digital health technologies on the application of the DTAC. If you would like to book into a session please contact dnhsx@nhsx.nhs.uk

For developers and innovators

We want to encourage all developers to review the DTAC to make sure your product is “DTAC ready”. Your product should be assessed at the point of commissioning, and this may be through a procurement exercise with a trust or a commissioner. Or if your product is part of a national initiative, for example an NHSX digital playbook, it may be assessed through our centrally funded team.

Having a consistent question set and standard is the first step to enable developers to present the same consistent and proportionate set of evidence to organisations buying digital health technologies.

You can find further guidance and support in A guide to good practice for digital and data-driven health technologies published by the NHS AI Lab.

Additional information

The NHSX assessment service for arms length bodies

NHSX has established an assessment service for products that are part of programmes in NHSX, NHS England and Improvement and other arms length bodies. Digital health technologies, including apps, being trialled, purchased, embedded into pathways, advocated to patients, built and bought should be subject to DTAC. This also applies to any frameworks being established or refreshed and any dynamic purchasing systems (DPS).

This does not replace any Government Digital Standards requirements. To book assessment capacity please contact dnhsx@nhsx.nhs.uk.

Passportability

As we launch in February 2021 our initial focus is on embedding the DTAC. We will be exploring opportunities for assessment passportablity in the future.

Transitioning away from the NHS Apps Library

We will be moving away from the branded NHS Apps Library and instead will highlight apps on condition specific pages of nhs.uk that are available to all. This is so that we have the right apps and products visible in the right places for citizens.

Whilst the DTAC will play an important part in assuring the clinical and technical security of apps that are surfaced, NHSX will be supporting teams in NHS England and Improvement to develop policy and clinically led criteria for digital product selection. This will mean that the apps that are surfaced on our national product suite are the ones that are supported by the experts in the respective policy areas.

Our mobile health roadmap for this year includes surfacing commissioned products and apps, improving the mechanisms and infrastructure for prescribing apps to support pathway transformation and supporting clinically requested data into patient records.