Palantir, the software company founded by billionaire Peter Thiel on Tuesday won a big contract Britain over concerns about a company known for its military-related work in the United States acquiring such a sensitive role involving patient data to help overhaul the technology system of the country’s public health service. To overcome.
The National Health Service said Palantir has been awarded a seven-year contract worth 330 million pounds, or about $415 million, to build a new platform that integrates data from the NHS into a central repository. The system, called a federated data platform, aims to make it easier to share patient information and analyze broader health trends across the broader healthcare system. This contract is for the NHS in England and does not include Scotland or Wales.
Palantir was a controversial choice, as some doctors, civil society groups, and members of parliament raised concerns about giving the company responsibility for building what could eventually become one of the world’s largest repositories of health data. Privacy concerns and Mr. Thiel, a liberal investor who is a close friend of President Donald J. In addition to the company’s ties to Palantir, who was one of Trump’s major 2016 donors, many health officials and policymakers were angered by Palantir’s aggressive lobbying tactics to win the new contract. Others have questioned the effectiveness of the technology.
Palantir was awarded the contract in partnership with Accenture, business consulting firm, PwC, NECS and Cornell Farrar.
NHS England said in a statement that the new platform will “bring together existing NHS data, making it easier for staff to access vital information to provide better and more timely patient care.”
Palantir Chief Executive Alex Karp said in a statement that the system would “help reduce waiting lists, improve patient care, and reduce health disparities.”
Palantir was the front-runner to win the contract after gaining the trust of many senior government officials during the pandemic. The company played a key role in helping tabulate data about the spread of COVID-19 and the allocation of resources, as well as the rollout of the country’s vaccine program. Palantir divided the work into more health contracts, including a program to help relieve the patient backlog for surgeries and other care.
While the NHS is a government-run system, it is organized into different regional hospitals and trusts, creating a wealth of information which officials now want to bring together.
The cost of building the data platform was initially announced at £480 million. On Tuesday, the NHS said additional funding was set aside to build privacy features and for other companies to bid to build new products on the platform in the future.
Dr. David Nicholl, spokesman for the Doctors Association UK, said it was unclear whether Palantir’s technology would deliver the promised benefits. A pilot program had given mixed results.
“This is a staggering amount when the deal was not adequately scrutinized and leads to the belief that this is the direction of travel when other options should have been considered,” Mr Nicol said in a statement.
Corey Crider, director of Foxglove, a legal group that has opposed Palantir’s participation in the program, said that “if this system is not useful to frontline doctors, it risks being a half-billion-pound flop.”
Palantir creates customizable software for organizations to make sense of large amounts of data. Tools digest information from different sources, then pull it together into visual displays that are easy to interpret.
The company’s business focuses primarily on contracts with the US Department of Defense and others, but is expanding into health care while seeking new areas of growth.
Addressing privacy concerns, the NHS said the contract “explicitly prohibits the use of patient data for commercial gain.”