Smaller and new-to-market providers competing for assistive technology tenders are being offered help from an industry standards body, which says it can act as a broker in the marketplace.
CECOPS routinely works alongside major providers like Medequip and NRS Healthcare to help drive efficiencies and improvements so that they are able to tender for telecare, wheelchair and community equipment services more competitively.
But many of the industry’s smaller firms interested in competing for lucrative NHS contracts are less aware of what help is available.
CEO of the standards body, Brian Donnelly, said that new innovations and technologies have been hitting the marketplace over recent years but argued that these are slow to be adopted within the public care sector.
He believes that there are plenty of smaller firms within the industry who have a lot to offer where new technologies and innovative approaches are concerned.
“Barriers preventing adoption include lack of knowledge of what is available, not knowing where to start when implementing innovative technologies and people defaulting to the old way of commissioning and provision of services,” he said.
“As CECOPS is a completely independent organisation – not industry-led or a membership body – we can act as an unbiased broker in the marketplace, enabling smaller and new providers to have a fair chance at entering the market.
“With our framework and tools we also aim to help commissioning and provider organisations to improve their readiness to adopt the range of new technologies.”
CECOPS’ standards state that integration and a more holistic approach can improve health and care outcomes.
While critics might argue that this kind of strategy could lead to fewer providers in the marketplace and thereby less competition, Donnelly said that a more integrated approach to care could in fact offer greater opportunities for companies who are willing to work together on services, in particular for smaller firms.
Donnelly added: “Providers will need to have a wider offering, but they will need to decide how best to go about this. This may be in the way of strategic partnerships or developing services in-house.
“Already there are a number of main providers offering wider services; to achieve this they sometimes have third party arrangements in place for specific elements of what they offer.
“This will be unchanged, but they may need to forge more links with suppliers of new technologies, if this is what commissioners want them to offer. This applies to in-house and external providers.”