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New monthly BiP Inform report series covers major market trends

BiP Solutions are proud to launch the first in our new series of BiP Inform monthly market monitor spend analysis reports. The first report, a Healthcare market trends update, covers the NHS and the wider healthcare sector.

Each month, these reports will focus on a specific area of public sector spend, analysing which organisations are spending the most, and with which suppliers. Drawing on data from BiP Solutions’ Tracker Market Intelligence tool, home to Europe’s largest database of public sector tenders and awards, our reports will detail the organisations with the highest spend during the month in question; the suppliers who have won the most and the largest contracts; the regions of the country that award the most contracts and their total combined value; and more.

Key highlights from our Healthcare report, covering data from July 2019, include:

  • Total NHS spend during this period was just over £1.6 billion
  • 663 notices were published, with a further 535 contracts awarded
  • One NHS organisation, Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit, is responsible for just shy of 40% of all contracts awarded during this period
  • The top buying organisation during this period had a combined awards value of £500 million

BiP Solutions offer a number of other ways to stay informed about the latest updates and trends in the healthcare market, including Health Online, our dynamic online healthcare community. Offering a personalised experience allowing each user to select their areas of interest, Health Online allows users to stay up-to-date with the latest healthcare news as well as network with other healthcare professionals. In addition, BiP Solutions’ P4H (Procurement for Health) series of events bring together leaders from throughout healthcare procurement for keynote talks, skills training workshops and more, as well as supplier networking opportunities.

To find out more about the latest healthcare market trends, download your complimentary copy of the full report here. Further reports covering areas such as local and central government will be published in forthcoming months, allowing you to keep up-to-date with the latest figures.

BiP Knowledge Transfer Partnership examines search engine technology

BiP Solutions and The University of Strathclyde are currently undertaking a 2½ year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), part-funded by Innovate UK, the UK Government’s innovation agency.

The KTP project team is led by Dr. Stuart Mackie, who completed his Ph.D. in Computing Science at the University of Glasgow (2018), specialising in information retrieval, natural language processing, machine learning, and data science.  Here Dr. Mackie explains what the aims of the KTP are, and discusses his recent presentation of a paper on behalf of the KTP at the world’s leading conference on search engine technology.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership

BiP Solutions has partnered with the University of Strathclyde to access academic expertise in the areas of Information Retrieval, Machine Learning, and Data Science.  The aim of the KTP project is to embed key technical expertise within BiP Solutions in order to enable the development of the next generation of business intelligence products and services.  Specifically, the goal of the KTP project is to improve the relevance of search results of the procurement contracts search engine within BiP Solutions’ business intelligence solution, Tracker.  Further, the KTP project also aims to support data-driven decision making via promoting a culture of experimentation, evaluation and analysis.

The KTP project team is working to capture and leverage search user interaction data and deploy state-of-the-art machine learning technologies into BiP’s search engine products – to improve the relevance of search results for BiP customers. The KTP project team is also working to implement a redesigned search user experience, to deploy an online A/B testing infrastructure, and to develop evaluation metrics and an analytics dashboard for the Tracker product.

The KTP project builds on the work from a successful DataLab-funded project – focusing on search relevance engineering – where we built a domain-specific dataset (i.e., test collection) for evaluating Tracker’s procurement contracts search engine, and implemented a Lucene-based search engine evaluation framework for conducting a thorough evaluation of different search algorithms.

ACM SIGIR Conference

Recently, we participated in the ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval.  The SIGIR conference is the premier venue for the publication and dissemination of research relating to search engine technologies.  We presented a paper in the SIGIR 2019 Symposium on IR in Practice (Industry Track), along with presentations from Amazon Alexa, Netflix, Comcast Applied AI Research Lab, Facebook, University of Sheffield, Ancestry.com and Thomson Reuters, amongst others. You can read and download our paper here.

For businesses wishing to tender for competitive opportunities, finding relevant procurement contract notices presents a challenging professional search task.  This search task involves business users searching for economic opportunities, with high value associated with the outcomes.  Our paper outlined the “Challenges in Procurement Search”:

  • Query specification – search queries are user-curated complex Boolean expressions, often many hundreds of terms in length. How can we best capture user information needs?
  • Commercial Relevance – a contract matching a customer’s query terms may not be commercially relevant due to many business factors. How can we shape the relevance function to reflect this?
  • Temporal Relevance – businesses need to find contracts as soon as they are published, to maximise bid preparation time. How can we ensure customers receive relevant contracts as soon as they are available?
  • Data Sparseness – with lower click volumes observed compared to commercial web search engines, how can we bootstrap supervised machine learned models with less user interaction data?
  • Bias & Regulation – public procurement is a highly legislated area. How can we ensure that machine learned models and recommender systems are fair and unbiased?

The challenges we highlighted in this paper will be addressed throughout the KTP project as it continues.

 You can learn more about BiP’s range of digital business intelligence solutions here.

Transforming healthcare procurement at P4H England

The UK’s premier healthcare procurement event, P4H England, returned to the NEC, Birmingham on 4 July 2019. The event welcomed over 1500 delegates from the NHS, the wider healthcare sector and the private sector supply chain, with a packed schedule including keynote talks, training and knowledge exchange sessions, and many opportunities for buyers and suppliers to meet and discuss their needs.

Many of the day’s sessions had standing room only, demonstrating both the quality of the talks on offer and the enthusiasm of the P4H audience.

You can see some of the day’s highlights here, and read more below:

Keynote Arena

The Keynote Arena witnessed a plethora of talks from procurement leaders from throughout the healthcare sector, as well as a motivational lecture from world-famous explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

Chair Glen Hodgson kicked off the day by suggesting that “our job today is to avoid the noise and think strategically – focusing on the great work done by colleagues to make the NHS safe.” Stephen Foulser, Customer Engagement Director at NHS Supply Chain, delivered the first talk of the day, reflecting on a year of the new NHS Supply Chain Operating Model. Next up, Michael Pace, Managing Director of Corporate Services at the NHS London Procurement Partnership, stressed the importance of collaborative work to efficient procurement. Mr Pace said that despite the huge changes that have come to bear on NHS procurement over the last 12 months, and what he understands as areas where improvements still need to be made, there was much to be positive about.

“I’m more excited by the opportunities in front of me than I ever have been as an NHS procurement professional before.” – Michael Pace, Managing Director, Corporate Services, NHS London Procurement Partnership

Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ lecture proved to be the day’s main draw for many attendees, with delegates queueing several rows back from the Keynote Arena to hear about the explorer’s experiences over more than 50 years across Oman, the River Nile, Vancouver, Antarctica and the Arctic Circle. Sir Ranulph emphasised the importance of teamwork, framing all his expeditions as the achievements of a dedicated team. Aside from the focus on collaboration, the relevance of Sir Ranulph’s talk to a healthcare audience was made obvious through his sharing of several graphic photos detailing the after-effects of severe frostbite!

ranulph-fiennes-p4h-england

Sir Ranulph Fiennes delivers his keynote lecture

The afternoon at the Keynote Arena was equally busy, with talks including Pia Larsen, Director of Procurement and Supply Chain at University College London NHS Foundation Trust, delivering a detailed case study of what transforming procurement at a particular trust looks like. The theme of asking what ‘collaboration’ looks like, and how it can change NHS procurement, continued with two talks about the experience in different parts of Greater Manchester, from Neil Hind, Procurement Lead at the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, and Joe Lever, Group Procurement Director at the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group. The final keynote talk of the day saw Tom Wynne, Head of Procurement for London at NHS Improvement, talking about the forthcoming Procurement Target Operating Model, allowing delegates to see some of the ways in which NHS procurement is set to be reshaped in the coming months and years.

Market Support and Engagement Zone

The Market Support and Engagement Zone at P4H England 2019 allowed suppliers to understand how they could best engage earlier with buyers across the NHS and beyond. Teams representing Tracker, Supply2Gov, Cyber Essentials and Market Engagement heard first-hand about some of the challenges faced by the private sector and were able to offer expert advice on how to leverage best-in-class tools to improve tender win rates and identify strategic business opportunities. Delegates were also able to visit the on-stand juice blend bar, which proved unsurprisingly popular on a very warm day!

“We’d like to say a massive thank-you to Tru Foo, our juice suppliers, for keeping us and the delegates refreshed throughout the day. We had some really insightful conversations with suppliers looking to increase their visibility in the public sector market, and we hope that each of them left the stand with actionable information that helps them grow their business in this market.” – Susan Staley, Head of Digital Marketing, BiP Solutions

BiP Solutions customers were also offered exclusive access to the VIP lounge, providing a quiet space throughout the day to catch up with colleagues and emails, enjoy refreshments and attend several VIP-only talks.

Health Online

As the official media partner of P4H, Health Online was proud to be represented at the event. Interest in Health Online’s dedicated online healthcare community proved high, with a talk from Health Online Sales Manager Soafyaan Zia seeing delegates literally queueing out of the door to attend! You can learn more via Health Online’s own P4H review.

Soafyaan Zia delivering a talk on Health Online at P4H England

Soafyaan Zia’s talk introduced delegates to Health Online

What’s next?

Scotland’s and Wales’ procurement communities will come together later this year at Procurex Scotland on 29 October in Glasgow and Procurex Wales on 7 November in Cardiff. Register today or learn more about sponsorship opportunities here.

There’s also still time to enter your procurement team or project for the prestigious GO Awards, with presentation ceremonies taking place on the evenings of Procurex Scotland and Procurex Wales. Share your procurement success stories here!

BiP Solutions launches second report in series exploring local government procurement

New market report considers local government trends, challenges and opportunities in a digital world

Download your exclusive copy of the report here.

Today, BiP Solutions is pleased to launch the second in our series of reports focusing on the changing landscape of public sector procurement. Our latest report considers the impact of this changing landscape for local government in an ever-evolving digital world.

The publishing of the Government’s Transformation Strategy effectively kickstarted the journey of digital transformation for Government with many local authorities taking advantage of the components available to them through GOV.UK.

In fact, across local government today, digital transformation is playing a significant role in meeting the needs and expectations of citizens. In light of this, our report considers the key digital trends and innovative approaches transforming service delivery for citizens. It also considers current spend within local government, with a particular focus on IT/Digital spend, and also draws on findings from recent research conducted by our colleagues at iGov Survey to highlight the specific procurement challenges and opportunities facing local government and the wider public sector.

Eddie Regan, PASS Training Consultant at BiP Solutions, said of this research:

The timing of the latest iGov Survey is quite appropriate, given the current uncertainty about Brexit and the continual questions about what impact it may or may not have on public procurement.

Early engagement, innovation and emerging new technologies all have a massive role to play in the future direction of public procurement. The public sector cannot afford to fall behind and this research highlights that whilst the sector is moving in the right direction, more does need to be done to upskill procurement teams and develop effective supplier relationships that deliver true value for all involvement in the procurement process, including and not forgetting, service users.’

Our report also reflects on our recent Procurex Events in Wales and Scotland and considers key ways take to get ahead if you are looking to tap into the local government marketplace, regardless of your prior experience of procurement.

To read the report in full, please access your personal copy here.

To find out more about our solutions, please visit: www.bipsolutions.com

New digital paths for health, work and business a major focus within the NHS Long Term Plan

Hospital working working on tablet computer

Earlier this month, the NHS published its Long Term Plan. The Plan details how the £20.5 billion budget settlement for the NHS, confirmed in the summer of last year, will be spent over the next five years.

For patients, the Plan focuses on delivering ‘the best start in life’ for everyone, community health, and allowing people to age well. From the perspective of the NHS itself, the Plan will focus on driving efficiency, both in terms of organisation and affording individual workers easier and more effective working practices.

A major focus of the Plan concerns digital transformation. This will include such innovations as the NHS App, allowing for a single way for patients to identify themselves across a range of local and national services.

Associated apps and digital solutions will no doubt be embraced wholeheartedly by a range of NHS institutions, as a recent iGov Survey found that 72% of respondents from the NHS would like to deliver patient health apps as part of their Wi-Fi solution, while more than two-thirds stated that patient access to online appointment bookings will be beneficial.

At BiP Solutions, we recognise both the challenges and opportunities presented by digital transformation facing healthcare buyers and suppliers today.

In fact, our most recent report considered the digital trends and innovative approaches playing a significant role in today’s NHS through boosting efficiencies and, crucially, saving lives. You can access a complimentary copy here.

It’s no secret that the NHS is a hugely complex organisation, with hundreds of separate but connected organisations, and navigating the ways they link, share information and work together can sometimes be difficult for NHS staff, let alone those seeking to work with NHS trusts. The digital transformation element of the Long Term Plan promises to ease the burden of the NHS’ complexity for patients and staff.

If you’re looking to cut through the difficulties of understanding how NHS organisations are related and talk to the right person to do business with, BiP Solutions’ Ingenium community can help. Our data community holds contact details for all senior decision-makers throughout the NHS, which we combine with a deep understanding of the NHS’ structure to deliver relevant and engaging digital marketing campaigns.

The Long Term Plan will reshape many NHS working practices, the ways patients interact with the NHS, and the way that business is done too. For businesses, it’ll therefore be important to keep up-to-date with the latest developments, as changes are set to happen throughout the NHS supply chain. An easy way for businesses to ensure they’re staying abreast of the latest changes is through Tracker’s business intelligence modules which offer an easy one-stop, complete source of information on public sector procurement.

Additionally, a major element of the Plan’s overhaul of working methods will be further innovations in terms of technology and equipment needed. For example, the Plan’s stated aims include new ways of managing and storing data, as well as novel methods of treating patients and providing care. With innovation a primary concern, it’s important that businesses are able to join conversations with NHS buyers earlier, to ensure that they can gain a real understanding of the requirement – or even shape discussion about the solution needed.

In fact, Gareth Rhys Williams, Government Chief Commercial Officer and Non-Executive Director at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), said at our recent Procurex Scotland event that “early engagement is absolutely crucial.” He also noted that both buyers and suppliers should be encouraged to engage earlier to get the best out of a procurement exercise:

“If we don’t engage with the market, we won’t understand what the market can offer or what suppliers have developed for a different buyer elsewhere in the country. If we do not talk to suppliers then we miss out on opportunities and we will end up trying to procure something that they may not be able to deliver.”

How we can help

As mentioned before, Ingenium can put businesses in touch with key NHS stakeholders ahead of the tender process, helping conversations happen earlier.

Additionally, Tracker aids early engagement, thanks to easy viewing of upcoming contract renewals and recurring projects through ‘Market Leads’, meaning businesses can discuss these needs ahead of tender publication. Meanwhile, Tracker’s ‘Spend Analysis’ allows for an overview of what organisations are spending and with whom – helping businesses to shape future discussions by understanding how individual NHS trusts spend and work.

The transformation of the NHS via the Long Term Plan looks set to radically overhaul the way that the NHS, patients and businesses interact. We look forward to working digitally together with the NHS as the Plan unfolds.

Further reading

View the Long Term Plan here.

Access our latest Healthcare market report here.

To find out more about our solutions, please visit: www.bipsolutions.com