Pharma and tech: approaches to NHS adoption and mobilising partnership - Part two

Thursday, May 13, 2021 |


Transactional selling is a thing of the past. Med tech and pharma that come forward with a holistic service demonstrating value, will secure adoption of new technologies.

Luella Trickett, ABHI puts it well; “We often talk about innovation in the context of something shiny, new, and expensive, but actually innovation is as much about changing the way you do things as it is about changing what you do with those things.” 

This post is the second in a series of three summarising the outcomes of a panel discussion from the GIANT Health Tech Festival. Missed part one? Click here to read it.

Three take-homes:

  1. Looking holistically at how your solution supports the wider issue is key to demonstrating its value and impact - always remember to look at the bigger picture
  2. Seize the opportunity to take part in industry challenges. They offer a new way of collaborating that brings maximum benefit to all involved, at pace. Both the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and NHSX often run such challenges
  3. There is no silver bullet to any problem, but you don’t need to be an expert at everything, find other industry partners to collaborate with to find solutions together - it’ll lead to a win:win for all involved

Simply rocking up to a clinic and a rep reeling off data and product attributes, doesn’t win access anymore. The new ways of working are not simple, and taking an holistic approach to addressing challenges in the patient pathway requires true collaboration that can facilitate spread of innovation. This begins with understanding the wider issue and the unmet needs before looking at how and where a technology could fit.

Craig Mustoe of Baxter explains this shift “The challenge with med tech is that it’s often used in very small parts of a complex treatment pathway, where you have multiple influencing variables. So we need to start to consider what we bring as an organisation to care delivery, rather than just thinking about the impact of the use of a piece of technology at a discrete point in a care pathway. If we do that, we start to shift the conversation towards something that’s more solutions focused rather than transactional. 

To illustrate let’s use a very simplified example; take a piece of technology that reduces post-operative bleeding faster than conventional methods, say it takes five minutes off a two-hour operation - it’s quite hard to illustrate the value of that, and it’s even harder to justify the impact that that will have on budgets. But if we take another look at it, because the risk has been reduced, we can consider taking the patient through a day-case pathway rather than an inpatient stay. We might be able to send the patient home earlier and introduce other technology, such as an app to allow them to track symptoms at home with a live feed into the physician to allow them to make rapid real-time decisions. 

Through this example we can see how a simple idea can grow into something that is much more valuable than it initially looked. Organisations that understand the challenges faced by health systems and clearly demonstrate the system value can help co-creation of new care models. In this way they’re likely to gain more traction than simply developing a technological innovation and being assessed as a discrete part of an existing pathway.” 

During the pandemic, we’ve seen greater collaboration than ever before, there’s a common aim of solving some of the existing big system challenges that have come to the fore because of COVID; waiting lists, workforce challenges, capacity, timely diagnostics. They’re all part of patient pathways, which we could all be working together in new and innovative ways to solve for the benefit of everyone.

Industry challenges and vanguard programmes - which are often used by Government to drive innovation - present an engaging and agile way of bringing together the private and public sectors and are something which ought to be explored further in the healthcare sector. The problem to be solved is defined upfront and the parameters are set so everyone is clear on the scope from the get go. Relevant industry members are then invited to submit proposals for solutions. Andrew Riley, MSD, relays his experience of working on a cancer vanguard programme via a Joint Working project  “What I like about this approach is the equity that it brings across all companies. There was full transparency and all companies had the opportunity to apply if they wished to. It gave the customer probity and governance structure while being compliant with industry regulations and within the ABPI Joint Working framework. Not only that, but it led to successful outcomes for patients, the NHS and industry - the golden centre of the Venn diagram that we’re all working towards. AHSNs and ICSs can utilise these ideas to identify opportunities and encourage collaboration.” 

Trying to deliver a solution that is beneficial system-wide is a core principle of value-based healthcare as Luella Trickett, ABHI highlights, “We often talk about innovation in the context of something shiny, new, and expensive, but actually innovation is as much about changing the way you do things as it is about changing what you do with those things. 

Collaboration has to be part of this. Reflecting on the COVID situation, there wasn’t one silver bullet; you needed diagnostics, therapeutics, medical equipment in intensive care units, you needed all of the people coming together to deliver the treatment plan for the system as a whole. So we’ve seen industry collaborating with industry partners as well - if you’re trying to solve a problem across a pathway, chances are not one single company has all of the solutions. We tend to be specialists in our own field, so if you’re a specialist in one part of the pathway, isn’t it better to work with another specialist rather than trying to become good overnight? We’ve seen a lot of that happening. Prior to COVID, the NHS was very siloed; one of the things we’ve seen, the changes through COVID is the removal of the barriers, from a financial point of view and a technology point of view. That’s where you are empowered to deliver a new solution. You can spend money in one place to benefit another place, which has historically been one of the barriers to adoption. We’ve demonstrated that it can be done, let’s use this silver lining and take it forward.”

Bringing together partners across industry is something that has been a great success during the pandemic and isn’t limited to health tech as Carolyn Heaney, ABPI, explains “We’ve done our own industry challenge, together with NHSX, where we put out a call to industry to come forward with solutions to remote monitoring and remote delivery with the emerging outcomes providing particular use in light of the pandemic. 

Showcasing what’s happening between the NHS and industry and the value it brings is also key, so we’re working towards a central repository of examples of industry and NHS collaboration, so we can build and share information about specific projects and their demonstrable successes. Ultimately, it’s about a triple win of improved patient outcomes, more efficient use of NHS resources, and evidence of impact of industry.”

This blog is the second of three posts summarising a panel discussion from the GIANT Health Tech Festival. To find out more about GIANT’s upcoming European Health-Tech Innovation Week™ 17-21 May 2021, click here. Enter the code BobHealth25 to receive an exclusive discount on tickets!

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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