A Medical Device Daily

Spiraling healthcare costs and the rising complexity of healthcare information technology (IT) systems are compelling European hospitals to outsource their IT needs. Additionally, increasing public sector support of IT modernization initiatives across Europe are creating significant opportunities for healthcare IT vendors and service providers. In the future, vendors are likely to embrace models like the application service provider (ASP) in a big way, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan (London).

The report says that the European Healthcare IT Outsourcing Market generated revenues of $396.4 million in 2005 and estimates to reach $697.7 million in 2010.

“Globally, the healthcare IT sector is set to witness organic growth due to the interest generated by clinical systems such as electronic medical record [EMR] and administrative ones such as patient administrative systems [PAS],“ notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Sumanth Kambhammettu. “Also, the development of technologies such as application service provider in healthcare and the potential returns they can deliver to financial bottom lines are expected to have a significant impact on the European healthcare IT outsourcing industry.“

The IT modernization initiatives of various governments in Europe are likely to pave the way for increased adoption of the ASP model. In the near future, IT outsourcing and options such as ASP are likely to be key to the efficient management of healthcare IT and gain appeal in countries such as the UK, France and the Netherlands where healthcare costs represent the single largest component of public spending.

With a range of participants including healthcare solution vendors, modality vendors, pure IT solution vendors and technology/infrastructure consulting companies jumping onto the healthcare IT outsourcing bandwagon, the market promises to be highly competitive.

“With intensifying competition, IT solution vendors and service providers will find it difficult to sustain profitability,“ said Kambhammettu. “Industry participants will have to quickly adapt to changes in technology to create a niche for themselves.“

DLA survey cites negative dental impact

The Dental Laboratories Association (DLA; Nottingham, UK) has issued survey results which indicate, it says, that a new contract for dentists in England is having “a severe impact,“ where the contract has been piloted, on the prescribing patterns within the NHS.

The DLA asked 1,000 registered UK dental laboratories, which provide about 70% of all NHS dental treatments, how the new contract was affecting the accessibility of treatments for patients. The findings show large reductions compared to the same period in 2004: NHS denture work fell by 75%; NHS chrome work fell by 71%; NHS crown work fell by 73%; NHS veneer work fell by 63%; and the number of dentists providing NHS denture repairs fell by 55%

NHS dentists have worked under a “fee-per-item“ system in which their prescription patterns were monitored by the dental practice board so that abuses of the system could be identified quickly. However, the DLA says that under the new contract the Department of Health will only be able to identify the “band type“ of the work being carried out, rather than the specific treatment. This could lead, it said, to “anomalies such as a dentist or dental practice meeting their requirements for 'Units of Dental Activity' payments by offering check-ups but no actual treatment.“

The survey findings have been presented to Rosie Winterton, minister for health.

Richard Daniels, chief executive of the DLA, said that the survey figures “show that the new contract is failing on almost all counts, despite all the rhetoric from the Department of Health about increased dentist numbers and a simpler system for patients. The new contract offers dental practices across England a financial incentive to provide cheaper 'stop-gap' treatments, rather than long-term quality oral healthcare. . . . The figures clearly demonstrate that the new contract and its financial aspects lead to dramatic changes in prescription patterns. Patients will undoubtedly lose out.“

Alan Petrie, DLA chairman, said: “The new contract will basically allow supervised neglect to become standard practice in the National Health Service. It is interesting to note that Scotland and Northern Ireland, which are also undergoing a review of their NHS dental services, have both declined to follow the English route.“

The DLA describes itself as the trade association for dental laboratory owners in the UK.

NHS expands Cytyc ThinPrep test adoption

Cytyc (Marlborough, Massachusetts), a women's health company, reported another of England's National Health Service (NHS) Strategic Health Authorities (SHA) will convert all cervical screening to the company's ThinPrep Pap Test. The region, known as Leicestershire, Northamptonshire & Rutland (LNR), is comprised of three laboratories that process roughly 125,000 Pap tests annually. The arrangement represents a potential of about 625,000 ThinPrep Pap Tests over the next five years.

Julie Wood, chief executive of South Leicestershire Primary Care Trust (PCT), lead PCT for cervical cancer screening on behalf of the nine Primary Care Trusts across LNR said, “All nine PCTs have invested significantly in this new technology and are pleased to support treatment that better services the women of LNR in the prevention of cervical cancer.“

Alan Sharp, spokesman for the local professional implementation group that advises the PCTs said, “The decision by the SHA and its nine Primary Care Trusts was based upon rigorous examination of the evidence and all three laboratories unanimously favored Cytyc's ThinPrep Pap Test. The combination of improved clinical assurance and automation were instrumental in this decision.“

David Harding, president, Cytyc International, said, “We believe our continued success is the result of our superior product and outstanding support and service provided to the NHS by the team at Cytyc UK.“

Cytyc is focused on making products for cervical cancer screening, breast cancer risk assessment, treatment of excessive menstrual bleeding, and treatment of breast cancer.