The NHS can have “more confidence” in the development of its centrepiece care record system after CSC agreed to buy parts of troubled software supplier iSoft, analysts believe.
The crisis-stricken software firm is contracted to supply its Lorenzo care record system as the core element of the NHS’s £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in three out of five regions where CSC is the lead NHS contractor.
But uncertainty over the future of iSoft has increased concern over the delivery of Lorenzo, which is already running more than two years late.
In a shock move earlier this week, the iSoft board abandoned its planned sell-out to Australian firm IBA in favour of a £160m cash offer from German firm Compugroup.
The announcement was followed by news that CSC would itself buy the parts of iSoft that are developing Lorenzo for the NHS.
CSC will acquire all iSoft's NPfIT contracts, along with an NHS version of Lorenzo and the existing iSoft NPfIT products, i.Patient Manager and i.Integration Engine.
The complex deal will mean Compugroup will also be free to develop its own version of Lorenzo – and may try to sell future versions to the NHS – as well as retaining responsibility for iSoft's NHS legacy products.
Ovum analyst Tola Sargeant said NHS Connecting for Health (CfH), the agency that runs NPfIT, could “have more confidence that the development of Lorenzo is in the hands of a company it trusts” when it is taken over by key contractor CSC.
The NHS would also “know who to blame if things go wrong with the NPfIT rollout”, she said.
But Sargeant added: “With CSC becoming a software provider as well as the prime contractor, it will be harder for NHS CfH to switch software if Lorenzo doesn't come up to scratch.”
CSC will take on “more risk but gains more control over its own destiny” as a result of the planned acquisition, Sargeant said.
Sargeant said iSoft’s sale to Compugroup and the CSC purchase of its NPfIT work was “probably the best possible deal for all concerned in the circumstances”.
But she was not convinced the lengthy iSoft saga was over. “Where iSoft is concerned it is safest never to rule anything out.”
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