Advanced Computer Software Group has bought Strand Technology for £2m in cash in a move that accelerates a shake-up of the mental health supplier market that is gathering pace as the National Programme for IT in the NHS winds down.
The acquisition is the second buy-out of a small community and mental health electronic patient record vendor in a month.
Two weeks ago, Scottish conglomerate Amor Group bought the mental health system developed by Maracis Solutions, with a view to relaunching it as Unity Mental Health and winning new NHS business.
A number of mental health and community trusts have recently launched tenders for new electronic patient record systems, either because they are looking to the end of their NPfIT contracts in 2014-16 or because they did not receive systems from the programme and need to find an alternative way forward.
Having made it through the NPfIT years, it seems that smaller vendors are struggling to make the most of these new opportunities because of NHS tender requirements, and are being acquired by bigger suppliers with more substantial resources.
Strand Technology is known for its CareNotes system, which was developed in the early years of the last decade. The company won business from a number of local trusts in Cheshire, Lancashire and Derbyshire, but struggled to make further progress during the NPfIT years.
The EHI Intelligence NHS Trust Database indicates that its systems are used by nine trusts in total, with some of them using its software for specific functions, such as sending discharge letters and other communications.
A statement from ACS this morning said that Strand had a turnover of £1m in the year ended 31 March 2012, of which roughly 45% was recurring.
Vin Murria, chief executive of ACS, said in a statement this morning: “This is a strategic product acquisition, which extends the group’s patient care management software solution to the substantial community and mental healthcare market.
“Strand’s flagship solution, CareNotes, has been developed with the assistance of hundreds of clinicians from trusts and social care organisations throughout England, and will play an important role in supporting Advanced’s strong growth in delivering care in the community and mobile healthcare solutions.”
ACS is looking to expand rapidly through acquisitions. In May 2009, it announced it had a £55m ‘war chest’ for strategic acquisitions. Recent purchases include CareSys and Healthy Software.
The group has also been developing products acquired in earlier acquisitions, including the Adastra out-of-hours system and its nurse scheduling and records product, iNurse.
Last week, the company announced a new integration engine for iNurse, powered by BluePrism, which it claims will enable the product to integrate with other patient administration and management systems.