US-based Palantir secures £330m NHS contract for new data platform
Written by Rebecca Uffindell Tue 28 Nov 2023
Software company, Palantir Technologies UK, have been awarded a contract worth up to £330 million ($416 million) to provide software for the new NHS Federated Data Platform.
The Federated Data Platform is expected to deliver better care for millions of patients by reducing waiting lists and hospital discharge delays.
The software will also enable data sharing and joins up key information currently held in separate NHS systems. Through this, the platform is expected to tackle the challenges the health service has encountered post-pandemic.
The NHS said consolidating real-time data, like hospital bed capacity, elective waiting lists, staff schedules, and the availability of medical supplies and social care places enables staff to maximise resources. This optimisation ensures that patients receive more timely care.
“Patients come to the NHS at some of the most vulnerable points in their lives, and they want to know that our healthcare teams have access to the best possible information when it comes to their treatment and care,” said Dr Vin Diwakar, National Director for Transformation at the NHS.
Palantir was awarded the contract following an open and competitive process. The software company was supported by IT company, Accenture; professional services network, PwC; digital consultancy company, NECS; and healthcare consulting and data company, Carnall Farrar.
“This award is the culmination of 20 years of developing software that enables complex, sensitive data to be integrated in a way that protects security, respects privacy, and puts the customer in full control,” said Alex Karp, CEO at Palantir.
The contract involves an investment over a seven-year period. In the initial contract year, the investment is anticipated to be at least £25.6 million ($32.3 million).
The investment is likely to increase as more NHS Trusts join the platform over the course of the contract.
The contract announcement followed NHS staff voicing an urgent need for substantial investments in health tech to combat increasing wait times for diagnoses and treatments.
Federated Data Platform Built on COVID-19 Learnings
The NHS is set to introduce the Federated Data Platform software in the spring 2024. There will be a six-month implementation period to transition products supported by the existing National Data Platform, for which contract is ending.
Each hospital Trust and local health system will operate its own versions of the software to enhance information exchange. This software is designed to apply lessons learned from the COVID-19 vaccination campaign and the current National Data Platform.
The analysis of local data during the pandemic enabled the NHS to anticipate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, protect vulnerable populations, and allocate resources effectively. Insights gained from the largest vaccination programme in NHS history are expected to enhance the speed, informativeness, and coordination of patient care.
Access to health and care data within the Federated Data Platform requires explicit permission from the NHS, ensuring control over all data for direct care and planning. The data will not be used for research purposes, and GP data will not integrate into the national software platform.
“For the platform to succeed, it will also be crucial that the public continue to be engaged with, and that any concerns they have on the sharing of their data are addressed meaningfully,” said Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation.
Taylor added the Government and NHS will need to ensure adequate numbers of staff working in digital and patient data roles for the Federated Data Platform to succeed.
Chief Executive at the charity National Voices, Jacob Lant, said modernising the way data moves around the NHS has the potential to improve both patient experiences and the efficiency of the service.
“Engagement with the public over the last decade has shown that people are on board with this idea as long as it is done safely, transparently, and with clear concrete promises over who will and won’t have access to their medical records,” added Lant.
What Were the Past Successes of the Federated Data Platform?
Pilot projects using the Federated Data Platform have seen a drop in waiting times for planned care and in discharge delays, with faster diagnosis and treatment times.
North Tees and Hartlepool Trust has reduced long-term stays (21 days or more) by 36% since introducing the system. This is despite the increased demand of 7.7% more patients being admitted to hospital.
In Dorset, Trusts have used the Federated Data Platform to enable capacity for an additional 2,500 surgical treatments annually. Trusts are scheduling patient appointments further in advance than ever before, leading to a reduction in cancellation rates.
“Clinically-led pilots suggested we have much to gain by fully embracing the platform’s potential to help link data better for elective recovery and care coordination,” said Dr Jeanette Dickson, Chair at the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.
In Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, trailing data-sharing has been critical for the team to see and treat cancer patients sooner as they tackle the backlog.
“We have already seen measurable positive impact that helped our team to maximise our resources for the benefit of patients,” said Jeffrey Ahmed, Consultant Gynaecologist Laparoscopic and Robotic Surgeon at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
All 42 integrated care boards across England have backed the Federated Data Platform. Health and care organisations have also shared statements supporting the principles behind the Federated Data Platform.
Federated Data Platform Uses Privacy Controls in NHS First
The Federated Data Platform will be the first application of Privacy Enhancing Technology (NHS-PET) in the organisation.
NHS-PET is a nationally-assured and funded privacy tool designed to maintain the highest standards of security for managing patient data, assuring robust information governance, and ensuring data protection processes.
The procurement process for NHS-PET was separate from the Federated Data Platform, and the suppliers are deliberately different. The NHS did not state the intention behind this.
NHS-PET functions as an independent service, ensuring the separation of data treatment from data storage. This approach is implemented to safeguard data to maintain its safety and security.
IT company, IQVIA, was announced as the winning bidder for the NHS-PET contract, in a three-year deal with options to extend.
“Through our globally recognised technology and expertise, we aim to ensure the protection of NHS data. IQVIA has a proven track record in governing and protecting patient information while providing transparency in its use,” said Alistair Grenfell, President of Europe, Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, and Global Head of Public Health at IQVIA.
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Written by Rebecca Uffindell Tue 28 Nov 2023
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