U.K. Awards Billions In Health-Care IT Overhaul

Two contracts valued together at $3.3B went to Computer Sciences Corp. and Accenture.
The United Kingdom's National Health Service on Tuesday awarded multibillion-dollar service contracts to Computer Sciences Corp. and Accenture as part of its Care Records Service program. The program is a sweeping modernization of medical record keeping in the United Kingdom and represents the largest ongoing, nonmilitary IT-procurement program in the world.

The NHS is assembling a team of vendors to work on the project. On Tuesday, it awarded a $1.7 billion contract to CSC and several subcontractors to implement the program in England's northwest and midlands regions. The agency also gave Accenture a $1.6 billion contract for eastern England.

Through the Care Records Service program, the NHS wants to create individual electronic medical records for all 50 million patients under its care. The records would be immediately available to medical practitioners throughout a health-care system comprising 30,000 general practitioners and 270 NHS hospitals and clinics. All the information would be stored and distributed through what NHS calls a single secure national system that would be integrated with legacy computers and databases currently in use across its health-care network. "It may be the most ambitious civilian IT project we've seen to date," says John Jones, an analyst at SoundView Technology Group.

With Tuesday's announcements, the total value of contracts handed out for construction of the Care Records Service project stands at $8 billion. The NHS previously awarded Accenture a $2 billion contract to implement the program in northeast England. It also gave British Telecom a $2 billion contract to service the London area and a $1 billion contract to build an IT and telecommunications backbone for the entire project. All the contracts run through 2013.

Bidding to service the remaining southern cluster region is ongoing. EDS has teamed up with LogicaCMG in pursuit of that deal, and is competing against the combined efforts of Fujitsu and SchlumbergerSema. The value of the southern cluster contract has not been disclosed.