NHS trust: Not buying through NHS IT saved us £7m
Patient record database bargain
A direct tender has enabled Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS foundation trust to purchase a patient records system at a cost more than £7m below the price paid by the Department of Health (DH).
"We set a capped limit for cost and we introduced this rate at the start of the project," Jane Berenzynskyj, Caerus project manager, at the trust told Government Computing.
"We were expecting any suppliers to adhere to that cap limit, and I know that it is quite a bit less than if it was purchased through the National Programme for IT (NPfIT), but I guess that is one of the advantages of going for a direct tender."
The trust paid £1.8m to supplier CSE Healthcare Systems for the Rio patient records system. It signed the contract on 2 July for six years, with a possible two year extension.
Campaign4Change has reported that BT's contract with the DH under NPfIT cost £224.3m for 25 deployments of the same system, or about £9m each.
The DH was asked to comment about huge difference in price, but declined to do so.
The deal struck by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough was led by Berenzynskyj who worked with an internal project team, which liaised with the operational areas of the trust. The deal also was supported by an external procurement project adviser from the East of England Collaborative Procurement Hub.
Berenzynskyj said that the trust was part of NPfIT and due to take Lorenzo. But it withdrew from the programme and then spent 3-4 months examining the informatics market for a patient records system.
"We used an existing government framework which gave us indicative costs and timelines, and then made the procurement through OJEU," said Berenzynskyj.
She attributed the success of the procurement to having the right expertise and information, but says that there is a lack of information about procurement across the health service.
"When I started the process I talked to people in the supplier community and the NHS to find out about the best price, but there is no national specification on which to base the selection process," she said.
"There is a paucity of information about what a reasonable price is, the best procurement mechanism, or what the specification should look like."
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's purchase of the patient records system was made as part of its wider electronic clinical information programme, named Caerus after the Greek god of opportunity.
According to Berenzynskyj, the next substantial project as part of Caerus will be medicine management. In addition, an internal research and development team is working with Cambridge university to build a research case register, and the trust's board is to consider a strategy for information sharing and integration.
This article was originally published at Government Computing.
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Does anyone with even the remotest knowledge of IT projects believe that just because the AGREED price is 7m less than DH paid, the final actual price will be below this?
Companies bid low to get the contract then inevitable creep, overruns etc jack the price up.
Having working on NPfIT in the early days this is not unexpected. These trusts seem to think they know better than every other trust and that software that works wonderfully in another hospital couldn't possibly work well in theirs. So we get half-qualified procurement teams saying 'look, shiny!' and buying stuff that doesn't work with anything else and doesn't even meet their needs. I've seen trusts with four different patient records systems becuase a medical consultant on £150k decided one weekend he can create a better system on Access than the hospital already uses.
My other half is an ICU doc and loses (as in dead) tons of patients as a result of systems not being connected, GPs being too busy / lazy / ignorant to respond in good time about past history.
The principle of NPfIT was great - a choice of standardised systems that are inconnected so data was accessible from the other side of the country. It's the execution that was piss-poor. Doctors thinking the data belonged to them, not the patient, and politicians thinking systems that take 18 months to implement OOTB could be customised (to a spec not yet written) and implemented in 4 months in time for the election.
They set a price cap - and surprise surprise, there were some suppliers who agreed to meet it.
Now, it's quite possible that the Trust has done an excellent job, but there are lots of unanswered questions in this story - are the business requirements, functional specs, Ts&Cs and SLAs identical to the more expensive NHS IT version? If not, how do they differ?
Without knowing that, it's impossible to judge the value for money.