NHIF AGAIN WAITS FOR ITS INFO SYSTEM
The National Healthcare Insurance Fund (NHIF) will have next year a functioning info system, its experts claim. Six companies compete in the tender for working out the software and introduction of the technology. The offers of Hewlett-Packard, Siemens Business Services, Intracom, Оracle, IBM, and the consortium between BULL, Romania's Siveko SA, and the Israeli Macabi Health Care Services, were opened on January 21. The software will cost EUR7.5MN, of which 20% will be ensured by the national budget, and the balance will come from the World Bank loan for reforms in the healthcare sector. The tender is being held in compliance with the requirements of the international financial institution and the evaluation of candidates will be in two stages. The technical parameters of the different offers will be considered during the first stage that will last 56 days. In that period NHIF and World Bank experts will be consulting the applicants and they could correct their projects if there are lapses in them. The price will be mainly considered in the second stage, Teodor Vassilev, Deputy Director of NHIF's info systems, explained for the BANKER weekly. In his words, if the terms for the various procedures are observed, the winner will be known by the end of June, and the system itself will be commissioned in the end of 2006 at the latest. In fact, the delay from the initially planned terms is already considerable. The World Bank experts were to approve the technical parameters for the computer and software equipment by end-August 2004, and the executor of the project was to be known by end-January 2005. But the NHIF managed to send the necessary documentation to the World Bank experts only on November 8, 2004. However, the fact that the individual candidates will be evaluated by World Bank experts is a guarantee that the failure of the first procedure for the establishment of NHIF's info system, held back in 1999, won't be repeated. Then NHIF's management invited a tender and only one company - AremisSoft - applied for participation. Offers from candidates were collected again, including those of TechnoLogics EOOD and Insitech OOD. Although some companies of international repute showed interest, they gave up the bidding due to NHIF's high requirements to the technical parameters of the info system? Finally, AremistSoft ranked first and the contract with it was closed in violation of Bulgaria legislation as the company did not have a court registration in Bulgaria. The firm was supposed to be paid USD3.75MN for working out ten modules of the future complex info system, but its INTERNET website published an announcement that AremistSoft had won a tender for USD37.5MN and its shares soared. Arguments on the worth of the deal began. According to the then NHIF director Ilko Semerdjiev, the contract was accompanied by a annex, projecting that the company should also deliver the computers and the other components for the establishment of the info system. Thus, the price indeed reached almost USD37.5MN. The Bulgarian government, however, had committed to provide only USD3.75MN, and the rest was to be ensured by AremisSoft or foreign donors. What is more important is that financial experts in New York found out that the contract was practically not being fulfilled, as the company had neither found sources for financing, nor used its own funds. An investigation against AremisSoft for misleading investors began in the USA. The company's stock dropped 60% and it was declared insolvent soon afterwards.Four of the promised ten modules were worked out, for which AremisSoft got BGN3.8MN. It claimed another BGN3.8MN, but was refused. For that reason the company did not submit the codes for activating the products and they remained unusable. Later on it turned out that only two of the products could be used. Presently, the Archimed integrated document and workflow management software has been already installed at NHIF's headquarters and will be introduced into its regional offices as well this year.