Atos Origin has launched a new Atos Healthcare division bringing together its IT and clinical services in a bid to strengthen its position as a supplier to the NHS and other health businesses.
UK chief executive Keith Wilman said: “Following our increasing success in the healthcare market and its importance to our business, we have created Atos Healthcare, enabling us to better focus on the needs of our customers and further grow and strengthen our position in this market.”
Atos is a key NHS IT contractor, providing the Choose and Book outpatient appointment system that is part of the £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT) run by NHS Connecting for Health.
The new Atos Healthcare will deliver a range of services from hosting and software development to change management, procurement and frontline health and care services such as occupational health.
It already provides some clinical services, including NHS walk-in centres. It employs more than 500 full-time doctors with another 1,300 hired as contractors.
The launch of the new Atos Healthcare division comes despite warnings that that the IT services firm might have overstretched itself with a venture into healthcare service provision.
Analysts issued the warning in April after a £257m Atos contract to supply diagnostic scanning services to the NHS was suspended. The service was halted pending a review after 900 patients had to be recalled because of problems with the scans.
In the wake of the scanning problems, Ovum analyst Samad Masood said there had been “many raised eyebrows” among analysts, vendors and client organisations when Atos began targeting outsourced healthcare services a couple of years ago.
“For us, the main concern was that by providing healthcare services, which are more focused on provision of healthcare resources than IT, Atos Origin is risking stretching itself too far out of its core IT services business,” Masood said.
But fellow Ovum analyst Tola Sargeant offered a more upbeat assessment of the new launch, describing it as “a sensible move” that fitted Atos’s wider transformation programme.
Health was already a significant part of Atos's business, generating approximately 35% of UK revenues “but the different bits of the jigsaw haven't been brought together before now”, she said.
“A combination of clinical and IT expertise is likely to appeal to NHS customers in the UK - one of the main criticisms of suppliers to NHS Connecting for Health is that they did not understand the NHS sufficiently, or engage with clinicians properly, in the early stages of their contracts,” she added.
Sargeant said she expected Atos Healthcare to seek contracts under Connecting for Health’s £100m Additional Supply Capability and Capacity contract.
The creation of the Healthcare division comes as Atos attempts to beef up its UK business after €378m (£255m) impairment charges on its UK and Italian operations contributed to full-year losses of €264m (£178m) in February.
In May, Atos Origin’s board threw out moves to buy the company.