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US tech firm Palantir wins NHS Data Platform contract

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The contract award will see investment of up to £330m over the course of seven years

NHS England is set to introduce a new tool from spring next year to improve care for millions of patients, tackle waiting lists and reduce hospital discharge delays.

The new tool, known as the Federated Data Platform, will bring together key information currently held in separate NHS systems such as the number of beds in a hospital, the size of elective waiting lists, staff rosters, the availability of medical supplies and social care places.

The contract to provide the software has been awarded to US data analytics giant Palantir, with support from Accenture, PwC, NECS and Carnall Farrar.

Over the contractual period of seven years, the NHS will be investing up to £330m in the  data platform and associated services.

In the first contract year, investment is expected to be at least £25.6m, NHSE confirmed on Tuesday (21 November).

Announcing the contract, NHS National Director for Transformation Dr Vin Diwakar said: “Better use of data is essential for the NHS to tackle waiting times, join up patient care and make the health service sustainable for the future.

“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.

“This new tool provides a safe and secure environment to bring together data, which enables us to develop and deliver more responsive services for patients and will help the health service drive the recovery in elective care.”

Palantir CEO Alex Karp said that their software can integrate complex, sensitive data in a way that “protects security, respects privacy and puts the customer in full control.”

The NHS also ensured that no company involved in the Federated Data Platform can access health and care data without its permission.

“All data within the platform is under the control of the NHS and will only be used for direct care and planning. It will not be used to access data for research purposes and GP data will not feed into the national version of the software platform,” it said.

Every hospital trust and local health system will have their own version of the software, which enables them to connect and share information between them.

North Tees and Hartlepool Trust, where the system was introduced under pilot projects, has been able to reduce long term stays (21 days or more) by 36 per cent despite increased demand, with 7.7 per cent more patients being admitted to the hospital.

NHSE noted that the new Federated Data Platform builds on the success of the current National Data Platform, for which the contract is about to come to an end.

It will be the first use case in the NHS of Privacy Enhancing Technology (NHS-PET), a nationally assured and funded privacy tool to benefit all NHS organisations.

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