British IT company Fivium has been awarded a $1.68 million contract by the Department of Health and Ageing (DHA) to provide software and support services for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). The contract indicates the emergence of a new player on the federal government ICT market.
The contract will see the modernisation of the paper-based process that is currently in operation at DHA and will provide broad support to the PBS’s IT system, the Pharmaceutical Consolidated Information System (PharmCIS). Fivium will also be engaged in advising DHA on better work and business practices. PharmCIS is a key deliverable in the Department’s PharmBiz project, which seeks to deliver improved business systems to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Division.
Fivium Director Clayton Blake is optimistic about the impact his company will have on the PBS program, which he lauds as a worthwhile government service.
“The PBS scheme is recognised as one of the most advanced drug subsidy systems in the world. Our aim is to develop a far superior system that will set the benchmark within the industry,” he said in a statement posted on the Fivium website in August 2010.
The statement also outlines a number of more specific problems with PBS operations that it seeks to remedy.
“Currently the internal processes that support the PBS are primarily paper-based with very little electronic support. The circulation, evaluation and assessment of submissions are also predominately manual. The project is a major IT re-development and will require the consolidation of at least six existing internal systems and interfaces to a variety of external systems,” the statement said.
While the work with DHA is Fivium’s first foray into the Australian market, it is an experienced supplier to the UK Government. Fivium has developed cross-government systems, for example, that aid over 3000 businesses in interacting with the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, Ministry of Defence and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Fivium also developed the UK Oil and Gas Portal and UK Export Licensing System.
The contract with DHA extends from 23 June 2010 to 30 June 2015, but the paper-based conversion project is scheduled to complete in late 2011.
The contract follows a tendering process that began with a Request for Tender (RFT) issued in November 2009. The RFT said that the successful tenderer would be involved in “developing new IT systems that enable the pricing of the proposed medicines in line with agreed administrative procedures”.
However, despite Fivium’s new relationship with DHA, it is not the sole supplier assisting the PharmCIS project. DHA has also awarded a $32,273 management support services contract to IBM, extending from 1 September to 30 November 2010. Tender documents explain that IBM has been contracted to “provide information technology services for the PharmCIS Program”.
DHA has also flagged a requirement for contractors to work on this project by including 6 planned procurements “To Engage Specialist Contractors for PharmCIS Development” in its Annual Procurement Plan as published for 2010-11.