Although Covid-19 hasn’t dominated our lives and the news on anywhere near the same level as in the previous two years, a lot has still happened in the last 12 months, particularly in the ever-changing world of Digital Health.
Let’s take a look back at Digital Health’s most popular stories from the past year.
You may notice that the theme of Covid has been replaced this year, with our top few stories dominated by one unfortunate ongoing situation.
There have been some big ongoing stories in 2022 but few have sparked more debate than NHS England’s procurement of a Federated Data Platform (FDP) and US software company Palantir’s involvement.
In June, it was confirmed that a second NHS official was to join Palantir after it emerged that the company was the “front-runner” for the £360 million contract, which had been bumped up from an initial £240m after the duration of the contract was extended from three to five years.
It was announced that Harjeet Dhaliwal, deputy director of data services at NHS England and NHS Improvement would follow Indra Joshi, former NHSX director of AI, to the company.
Back in September we had yet another Secretary of State for Health and Social Care – yes I know it’s hard to keep count! Thérèse Coffey was appointed following a reshuffle of cabinet positions by the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss.
Truss remained as our ‘new Prime Minister’ for the entirety of her time in office because she only lasted 45 days. Coffey had replaced Steve Barclay, who himself had only been health secretary for two months, but after Truss resigned and Rishi Sunak got his chance as PM, Coffey was gone and Barclay was reappointed.
At eight is our story about American health giant UnitedHealth Group agreeing to acquire EMIS Group in an all-cash deal worth around £1.24 billion ($1.51 billion).
According to a Reuters report on June 17, EMIS said that it had agreed to be acquired by Optum Health Solutions, an arm of UnitedHealthGroup. Bordeaux UK Holdings II Limited, an affiliate of UnitedHealth’s Optum business in the UK, will pay £1.95 for each EMIS share.
All the way back in March, health IT giant Dedalus announced that it will cease offering the Lorenzo electronic patient record (EPR) system in the UK and Ireland and will switch to Orbis.
The company said the move will help NHS trusts and integrated care systems (ICSs) achieve the digital levelling up aspirations set out by the then health secretary Sajid Javid (we really have had a lot of health secretaries recently), where he called for 90% of trusts to have an EPR by 2023.
Lorenzo, which for 20 years was inextricably linked to the NHS National Programme for IT, is being dropped in favour of the more mature Orbis modular EPR product, which is used in over 1,000 sites in Europe and internationally.
Our sixth most read story of 2022 was the news that the chief executive of NHS England revealed that the organisation is expected to be between 30-40% “smaller than the current combined size of NHS England, Health Education England and NHS Digital” by the end of 2023/24.
In a letter to staff, Amanda Pritchard stated that the official formation of ICSs on July 1 means “NHS England must now change the way we work” adding “this means we need to reduce the size of NHS England and be rigorous about what we do”.
Into the top five we go then and we’re sticking with NHS England to return to the much spoken about Federated Data Platform. This story came before the one in tenth place, when NHS England first announced plans to develop an FDP.
This of course explains why the contract at this point was worth £240 million before, as previously stated, it rose to an even more mahoosive £360 million. The announcement was made via a prior information notice ahead of an open procurement.
The notice stated that the data platform will be an “essential enabler to transformational improvements” across the NHS and will be an “ecosystem of technologies and services”.
As we move into our top four, it won’t take long to work out that it is dominated by one ongoing story: the Advanced cyber attack. This story from early August confirmed that a major outage across a number of health and care systems delivered by Advanced was related to a cyber attack.
The day prior, the business software and services provider experienced issues with a number of health and care products, including its Adastra software which works with 85% of NHS 111 services.
At three we of course stay with Advanced with this story coming two months after the news first broke. This one revealed that client data was accessed and extracted by hackers during the cyber incident.
The variant of malware used by the perpetrators was Lockbit 3.0, leaving some trusts without access to key software systems for several months.
Advanced confirmed that the perpetrators were financially motivated and “were able to temporarily obtain a limited amount of information from our environment pertaining to approximately 16 of our Staffplan and Caresys customers”.
Your eyes do not deceive you, at number two is not a story linked to the Advanced cyber attack.
Just missing out on top spot is our story from May, where it was confirmed that Allscripts’ hospitals and large physician practices business had officially been bought by Harris Computer Corporation and would now be known as Altera Digital Health.
Harris announced in March that it was planning on acquiring part of Allscripts which covers the Sunrise, Paragon, Allscripts TouchWorks, Allscripts Opal, STAR, HealthQuest and dbMotion solutions.
And finally, the wait is over. Our most read story of 2022 is, you guessed it, the major outage of multiple health and care systems provided by Advanced.
This is when the news first broke on August 4, where the cause of the outages was unknown and there were no links to a cyber attack. The systems that experienced major outages were Adastra, Caresys, Carenotes, Crosscare and Staffplan.
All outages were initially treated as ‘critical incidents’ and with the ‘highest priority’ whilst under investigation. It took less than 24 hours for the outage to be confirmed as being related to a cyber attack, but it is no surprise that this first story about the incident takes top spot in 2022.