US-based healthcare intelligence company IMS Health has been chosen to produce clinical indicators for the NHS Choices website, taking over from Dr Foster Intelligence.

The NHS information Centre issued a tender for the production of indicators for NHS Choices after completing a review of the use of indicators such as hospital standardised mortality ratios.

The Information Centre this week confirmed that IMS Health had been selected as the preferred supplier for producing indicators to the Information Centre’s specification.

In a statement the IC said: “This contract is only one part of a much wider piece of work and we remain committed to working all interested parties to agree a common methodology for producing clinical indicators that will improve quality of care and patient choice."

The statement said the indicator specifications would be open, transparent, published by the NHS IC, and owned by the NHS.

It added: “The intention [is] to establish an NHS standard version for these clinical indicators that can ensure parity of use and interpretation by all users and stakeholders including the public.”

The HSMRs developed by Dr Foster Intelligence have been used on NHS Choices since its launch in 2007, when NHS Choices was run by DFI in conjunction with LBi and Sapient.

In 2008, Capita won an £80m procurement to run NHS Choices; but the HSMRs continued to be used on the site. Dr Foster Intelligence was among those suppliers who bid for the latest Information Centre contract.

Tom Moloney, chief executive of Dr Foster Intelligence, said: “Dr Foster put together a strong bid and we are disappointed to have lost out. However, we very much support the continued publication of risk-adjusted hospital mortality ratios as information the public deserves to know.”

Last September, the Information Centre said it had completed a detailed assessment of the indicators used on the Indicators for Quality Improvement (IQI) and NHS Choices’ websites to ensure the methodologies used were demonstrably fit for purpose and following transparent standards.

It said this assessment included an independent review of the methodologies by Leeds University and said it would publish that review and new standardised methodologies.

This week, an IC spokesperson told EHI Primary Care that the Leeds University reports and any recommendations contained in them would be published next month, although no exact date had been set as yet.

Quality indicators were the subject of controversy towards the end of last year when the patient safety rating of hospitals in Dr Foster’s 2009 Hospital Guide appeared to be at odds with the findings of the Care Quality Commission’s Annual Health Check.

Opinion and analysis: An in-depth look at the row over data triggered by the Dr Foster Hospital Guide.