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Atos Healthcare opens new sectors with Co-operative Group

Samad Masood | Aug. 7, 2009
Its recent win with the Co-operative Group moves it further into new market sectors, but does it threaten to spread Atos Origins BPO aspirations too thinly?

Atos Healthcares occupational health services division has always seemed a mile away from Atos Origins IT services roots. Yet it has grown rapidly in the UK market, and boasts clients from the Royal Mail to Rolls Royce. Its recent win with the Co-operative Group moves it further into new market sectors, but does it threaten to spread Atos Origins BPO aspirations too thinly?

A division of French-headquartered Atos Origin, Atos Healthcare provides outsourced occupational healthcare services in the UK. This means that it provides contact-centre-based assessment services and clinical advice to a clients employees with the aim to support reduced sickness-related absence and improve healthcare support for employees. This also makes it one of the countrys largest recruiters of doctors and nurses, employing 300 clinicians.

A prominent reference client is the Royal Mail, for which it saved £227 million, reducing absence by 25 per cent and returning 3,600 employees back to work between 2004 and 2007. In July, Atos Healthcare began providing services to 82,000 employees across the Co-operative Group and Co-operative Financial Services. This takes the number of employees under its care to 780,000 across more than 50 clients.

A step too far for Atos Origin?

Ovum logoThe Co-operative Group contract is significant because it gives Atos Healthcare clinical assessment and support expertise for a broader range of job types in the retail and financial services sector, previously virgin territory. For instance, health and welfare issues among counter clerks in these sectors will differ significantly from the support needed for manufacturing or logistics staff. Domain expertise gained with the Co-operative will help Atos Healthcare bid for more work in these as yet underexploited sectors.

But what does managing a call centre full of doctors and nurses have to do with IT services? Does this pure BPO business add to or distract from Atos Origins IT services roots?

From a financial perspective, its difficult to say whether Atos Healthcare has been a drag or a boost to Atos Origins profitability. From contract announcements alone it appears that the business is growing well, but the company does not reveal detailed revenue figures in its accounting. Nonetheless, there are several key areas where Atos Healthcares business transects that of Atos Origin, providing opportunities for efficiency. For instance, part of Atos Origins experience in recruiting and resourcing professional services staff for consulting and IT projects can be applied to that of recruiting and managing a bench of clinicians. Indeed, Atos Origins IT expertise has been leveraged significantly in building the Cosmas IT platform on which Atos Healthcare manages, customises and interfaces its processes with BPO clients.

 

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