SAS (Cary, North Carolina) said it has partnered with the NHS Information Centre (NHS IC; Leeds, UK) to build a standardized data management environment and business analytics platform that will integrate, manage and analyze information across the NHS. SAS said it will help the NHS IC to improve the level of service to NHS trusts and the department of health, resulting in better and more efficient care for patients in primary, community, hospital and social care.

"Health services worldwide face three main challenges," said Tim Straughan, the NHS IC chief executive. "Firstly, improving the quality of care to meet the expectations of patients; secondly coping with economic downturn; and thirdly – the NHS IC's focus – having access to information and using it effectively to address the first two. The NHS IC recognizes the need to make better use of information across the board to meet these challenges. Working with SAS, we can achieve a more effective end-to-end process for sharing information across the NHS, whilst ensuring information quality, security and governance."

The NHS IC will use SAS to improve data quality, automate data management processes and enforce central governance and control over data stored across the NHS. Furthermore, the organization expects to benefit from increases in efficiency and greater analytical flexibility, allowing its analysts more time to produce valuable analytics-based reports, leading ultimately to improved evidence-based decision making.

In other agreements/contracts news:

• InterSystems (Cambridge, Massachusetts) said that Partners HealthCare Systems has gone live at Massachusetts General Hospital (both Boston) with an application that helps the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reduce the risk of major outbreaks of communicable diseases. The high-volume system, which is built on the InterSystems Ensemble rapid integration and development platform, is processing more than 91 million HL7 messages annually.

Partners HealthCare is an integrated healthcare network that includes multiple major hospitals with more than 5,000 practicing physicians attending to 4 million outpatient visits and 160,000 admissions annually.

A leader in software for connected healthcare, InterSystems develops and markets integration, database, and business intelligence products. Ensemble is a high-performance software platform and advanced messaging engine that is used to develop and integrate mission-critical applications, leverage previous software investments through composite applications, and establish an enterprise service bus or SOA infrastructure.

Ensemble-based projects are deployed in healthcare, commercial and government organizations worldwide to solve many demanding HL7 integration problems.

"Massachusetts General participates in a disease surveillance system that is also processing transactions from Brigham & Women's Hospital, Newton-Wellesley Hospital and Faulkner Hospital," said Partners Health CTO Steve Flammini. With the addition of an estimated 85,000 messages per day coming from Massachusetts General, about 250,000 messages are flowing into the system's Ensemble hub on a daily basis.

Future plans call for increasing the number of hospitals connected to the disease surveillance system. Flammini noted that Partners' technologists rate Ensemble highly for ease of use, software reusability and the rapid performance needed to handle the system's large message volume.

• MEI Development (Coral Springs, Florida), a subsidiary of the MEI Healthcare Group, reported a strategic agreement with GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin), a leading provider of healthcare technology.

The sole-source, strategic agreement offers GE Healthcare's customers the option of MEI's broad solutions, including development, financial, oncology, women's health and consulting services.

"Our partnership with MEI provides a single, seamless platform for a comprehensive imaging solution," said Bob White, senior vice president, GE Healthcare.

"[This] agreement ensures that MEI will continue to provide physician and hospital clients with seamless access to GE's industry-leading technology, which is fundamental to delivering MEI's comprehensive solution portfolio," said Gordon Baltzer, president/CEO of the MEI Healthcare Group.

MEI Development provides turnkey solutions for physicians, outpatient facilities and hospitals that are interested in adding and updating imaging technology. MEI offers an array of services, including determining project viability, creation and implementation of business planning, procurement of imaging equipment and complete project financing.

• DocuSys (Atlanta), a provider of systems for anesthesia information management, medication management and presurgical management, said it has partnered with Medusind Solutions (San Juan Capistrano, California), an outsourcing company that provides integrated healthcare business solutions.

Medusind provides end-to-end revenue cycle management (RCM) services including medical coding, healthcare billing, coding documentation and coding analytics that lead into high value RCM activity, resulting in maximized reimbursements for their clients.

According to the companies, the partnership will combine the end-to-end RCM services provided by Medusind to improve the productivity and profit margin of anesthesia providers with the technology and services of DocuSys, to bring new levels of efficiencies and improvements to the surgical and anesthesia processes in the OR.

• Medical Present Value (Austin, Texas) said that six medical groups have selected MPV Contract Management, a web-based application that enables practices to audit reimbursement and payer performance based on individual client contract terms, the latest payment rules and payer adjudication logic.

The healthcare organizations, which range in size and specialty, include: Florida Cancer Specialists (Ft. Myers, Florida), a group with 63 providers in 26 locations; Will County Medical Associates (Joliet, Illinois), a 33-physician multi-specialty group; Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center (Golden, Colorado), a practice with 23 providers; Webster Orthopaedic Medical Group (San Ramon, California), a 14-physician practice; Mid-Maryland Musculoskeletal Institute (Frederick, Maryland), a group with 11 physicians; and Vail Summit Orthopaedics (Vail, Frisco, and Edwards, California), a nine-provider practice.

According to the company, the MPV Contract Management also enables healthcare organizations to determine a patient's out-of-pocket expenses prior to service, leading to improved patient-provider communications and reduced patient bad debt.