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Disrupting the procurement process

Nathan Downing, TSA Associate, lifts the lid on the world of the DPS...

The traditional approach via tenders and frameworks for equipment and service procurement for care settings is well established within the public sector - but there’s a new kid on the block in the form of the DPS, or Dynamic Purchasing System.

The DPS is best described as a framework with added flexibility.

From a supplier’s perspective this flexibility facilitates participation from organisations of all sizes, offers a quicker route to market and offers simplified terms and conditions that are specific to the DPS rather than one having to get to grips with multiple terms from different buyers.

Suppliers are pre-qualified as to their suitability to ensure they can offer a robust service and if someone falls short then advice is provided to aid supplier development. Often SMEs struggle to win tenders not because there is anything wrong with their company, product or service, but they simply don’t have in-house experienced resource to manage complex bid submissions.

From a commissioners point of view the DPS offers a quicker purchasing channel as suppliers are ready and waiting; and pre-qualified. There is therefore the benefit of reduced administration for overstretched procurement departments.

With a broader range of suppliers to choose from then purchasing can be focussed better on the health outcomes required by local communities and individuals – social care departments are less constrained than with conventional tenders and frameworks which restrict access to fewer or a single provider.

The TSA want to see the Technology Enabled Care sector flourish. With the ever expanding opportunities that digital solutions provide and our aging population becoming more tech savvy, then local authorities will need to position themselves as offering a wider choice of support for those wishing to remain independent at home for longer.

Procurement processes will need to become more dynamic to meet the demands of changing communities and increasing population health challenges. Open-minded councils working with agile suppliers, developing person-centric solutions that offer scalable support at pace will shine.

TSA has provided knowledge of the TEC sector to YPO and adam to help establish the first care technology DPS, which opened to suppliers and commissioners earlier this year. Not surprisingly it has been the TEC suppliers that have embraced this new system first, but we need more commissioners to take the plunge if this approach is to succeed and enable the transformation for the TEC sector that we want and need.

Of course there’s always a yin to the yang. A more open procurement process, using multiple suppliers, can present some challenges – eg: ensuring compatibility between, say, wearable devices and monitoring centres platforms, or managing data security across a dispersed supplier base. Of course with a well thought out specification and a philosophy to ‘make it so’ these should be seen for what they are; challenges to be overcome. Not barriers to progress.

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