The shake-up of England’s PACS/RIS market is well underway, with trusts in London becoming the latest to start work on plans to exit from the national programme contracts drawn up a decade ago.
The latest research from EHI Intelligence shows that the refresh is taking place in clearly defined waves as the result of the different contract end dates and intervention by the former Department of Health and NHS Supply Chain.
It also suggests that the refresh is opening up new opportunities for suppliers, particularly PACS vendors shut out of the National PACS Programme, and, to a lesser extent, storage suppliers looking to supply vendor neutral archives to trusts leaving the national data stores.
Report author Lindsay Bell said: When the end of the national contracts first came into view, there was considerable concern that the market would not be able to cope.
“However, it appears that the refresh is happening in a fairly orderly fashion. This is giving trusts time to consider their options, and suppliers time to pitch for business and, hopefully, get new systems in place where that is the choice that trusts have made.
“There is going to be considerable activity in the market through to 2016, and trusts seem genuinely excited by the possibilities that are opening up for them.”
The National PACS Programme was set up in 2004 to digitise the imaging processes of the two thirds of English trusts that were still using film.
It split the country into clusters and appointed a local service provider for each. The first wave of activity has been triggered by trusts in those areas where CSC was the LSP, since its national contracts expire this June.
Trusts in these areas have either gone out to OJEU tender or made use of a framework contract drawn up by NHS Supply Chain to secure new deals, or make ‘tactical’ moves to secure their existing services.
The next two waves of activity will occur as trusts in the areas where Accenture and BT were the LSPs decide what to do as their national contracts come to an end, and as trusts making ‘tactical’ decisions in the first two waves move onto more ‘strategic’ solutions.
In London, the PACS programme team is working with trusts to place them into one of three exit phases: early exit (prior to 30 June 2014), exit on expiry, and continuation of service (until 31 July 2015 at the latest).
EHI Intelligence’s latest report builds on a 2012 study of the PACS/RIS market, ‘Seeing is believing’, which predicted that GE Healthcare, the incumbent PACS supplier in the CSC regions, would struggle to maintain its dominant position.
This has been borne out in practice, with a number of new PACS companies securing business. However, HSS has maintained its position as the dominant RIS supplier.
Going forwards, Bell predicted that the large number of trusts making ‘tactical’ decision was likely to give incumbent suppliers a bigger advantage than they have enjoyed so far.
“They now have an opportunity to show trusts they can provide good value for money, good service, and new products, free of the shackles imposed by the national contracts,” she argued.
Other lively sections of the digital imaging market include managed services, vendor neutral archiving, and standards-based systems; although many trusts seem reluctant to invest in the latter until they see other local trusts doing the same.