Pharma and Tech: Approaches to NHS adoption - Part three

Monday, May 24, 2021 |

Perceptions of industry have altered, but change is slow and Rome wasn’t built in a day. However, there are strong glimmers of hope.

This is the final post in a series of three summarising the outcomes of a panel discussion from the GIANT Health Tech Festival. Click to read part one and part two.

Three take-homes:

  1. Consider what skills your team has to offer the NHS beyond the norm e.g. could you support with data analysis?
  2. As we move further into an integrated care system model, understanding the net impact of your offering is of increasing importance
  3. Good communication is key to a working relationship that results in positive action

Dawn Tretton, Boehringer Ingelheim, initially started her career in the NHS before moving to pharma; “It was a big cultural change. Pharma were the big bad organisations that pumped expensive drugs into the system, but actually now it’s really taken a step forward and I am genuinely seeing a massive cultural shift in how the NHS want to work together with industry. There’s a genuine need and desire to create and co-create solutions. Medicines alone won’t solve the challenge, but working together and creating wrap-around solutions through collaboration with third party organisations will.”

Industry has an opportunity to deliver real value not just through their products, but through their people; skills such as data analysis and project management are extremely valuable to the NHS. Understanding and working with the NHS to connect systems is really impactful. Industry has an opportunity to support in the fight to tackle health inequalities. COVID has forced work between industry and the NHS to think about how to reach patients, it requires a different type of thinking, for example social prescribing and risk stratification, it’s activity beyond the medicines. 

Dawn Tretton, Boehringer Ingelheim noted, “Credit to industry for thinking outside the box and doing things in a different way, but also credit to the NHS for actually taking on the partnership approach and wanting to work with us, so I see a really positive future. Unfortunately for many, COVID has accelerated this, but it’s also shown how we can work effectively together.”  

The med tech industry is taking a similar viewpoint as Craig Mustoe, Baxter explained; “Value doesn’t necessarily mean new exciting high tech innovation. Payment-by-results has created a bit of a challenge whereby activity drives income, so decisions made around technology often focus on reducing cost versus a set tariff rather than necessarily looking at a net value impact on the system. As the payment systems start to change - we’re expecting it to go to a more blended payment model over the next 12-months- and as ICSs start to develop, I think there’s going to need to be a much clearer understanding of the cost of delivery of care within a defined financial envelope. Understanding the net impact that a technology can bring is going to become really important.

“Any value-based healthcare system should be able to understand and extract the value from that product and then apply applicable funding to that, so that something so simple can actually be quite transformative. To do that as an industry, I think we need to be better at demonstrating and articulating the value; the NHS also needs to be better at procuring value.” 

The development of ICSs is a positive step forward to changing the way that value is assessed, they’re pushing the focus beyond the technologies themselves to a renewed focus on what they can deliver and how they can solve problems. 

Christopher Gray, AstraZeneca reflects on what more industry could do “Quite often from an industry perspective we’re very marketing and brand led and focus quite heavily on messaging around that. Taking a look at a whole pathway, our medicine is only one component, maybe even only one of a myriad treatments that a patient is on. What other factors influence them? Is it their ability to take the medicines? Are they compliant with their attitudes or education? Are there bottlenecks in the system that data and analysis can point to show that patients don’t get an appropriate or timely review? We need to shine a light on that type of information that allows for a broader, MDT type discussion across the health economy that can lead to a more sustainable and impactful change that doesn’t just look at one small part. As an industry, we’ve got a lot of capable people, experience and analytics, but it’s on industry to take that on to drive a focus on results on the full health economy.” 

A final message to conclude our session came from Michelle Sullivan, Boston Scientific: “A key driver for successful collaborative work is communication, building a network and thinking outside the box. Stop focusing on the micro world, think in a bigger world, thinking laterally and working to common aims- communication is key to doing it successfully. Don’t get put off with things that go wrong. Grow it like a big sprawling world of communication and action.”

Thanks to all our panellists for the engaging discussion that informed this blog series:

  • Carolyn Heaney, NHS Engagement Policy Partner, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) 
  • Luella Trickett, Director Value & Access, Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI)
  • Christopher Gray, Healthcare Manager, AstraZeneca
  • Craig Mustoe, Market Access Manager, Baxter
  • Dawn Tretton, Head of Policy & Partnerships, Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Michelle Sullivan, Senior Manager, Health Economics and Market Access, Boston Scientific
  • Andrew Riley, Oncology Healthcare Lead, MSD


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