Tech firms vie for lucrative Dept of Health contract

1 Sep 2003

Large technology consultancy firms including IBM are understood to be battling to win a lucrative contract that is out to tender from the Department of Health and Children to construct a major financial management system for all the country’s hospitals and health boards.

The tender, which is due to close by the end of the year, will see the construction of a major server-based centralised IT system that it is hoped will help resolve the Department of Health’s problematic spending history and move the country’s health boards and hospitals in the direction of e-procurement.

The Department of Health is understood to be seeking the construction of a national financial management system that will be based on SAP technology.

The Department intends to begin work on the project before the end of this year, with the aim of completing the rollout within two years. It is understood that the contract tender has excited interest from most of the large IT services firms, including Accenture, IBM, Fujitsu Siemens and Hewlett-Packard.

IBM, in particular, appears to be working flat out to win the deal and with the completion of significant health-based contract in recent weeks appears to have plenty of reasons to be confident. Two weeks ago the company beat off competition from Hewlett-Packard and Fujitsu Siemens to win a multi-million pound contract to overhaul the IT systems of the Northern Ireland Health Services and implement a double data centre solution.

Last week, IBM signed a contract with the Irish Health Services to provide the hardware and software that would underpin the next phase of the Health Services’ National Human Resource and Payroll programme. The first phase of the project, covering core personnel records, has already been implemented with the support of IBM. Rollout of phase two of the project – comprising staff, time management, scheduling and payroll – is under way at Dublin’s St James’s Hospital and is scheduled to go live in 2003. Implementation across the rest of the country’s health boards will continue until 2005, when work will commence on the remainder of the sector. The rollout will be funded under the recently announced Health Services Reform Programme.

IBM consultant Brendan McDermott told that the PPARS system was built primarily on a SAP system with P-series and X-series servers, offering the Irish Health Service 24×7 uptime and full disaster recovery.

He said of PPARS: “What we are providing is the managed services and infrastructure to allow users to manage the payroll and systems of Ireland’s health workers.”

Speaking of the overall financial management system for the health boards, McDermott said: “The financial management system is in a tender process at the moment and SAP is the platform of choice. The Department of Health is looking for consultancy services around the country to bid for the multi-year project and of course we’ll be bidding for the business.

“If you look at the way health boards are structured at present, they are mostly independent business units running their own operations. The idea is to transform all of this into a single integrated system that will ultimately reduce costs and improve services. A key aspect of this will be e-procurement of supplies and services,” McDermott said.

By John Kennedy