Collaborative working is key for the NHS and pharma
Both the NHS and pharma recognise the need and the opportunity to collaborate in order to improve patient care and outcomes, and this was a key theme for discussions at the recent HSJ Life Sciences Forum, which united thought leaders across the healthcare spectrum.
One way in which industry can work in mutually beneficial partnership with the NHS is by looking beyond the usual promotional plans and tactics, to how it can share valuable clinical evidence and information online by accessing NHS staff intranets. This can enable pharma to build its reputation and strengthen customer relationships whilst improving NHS staff knowledge and expertise.
There is a particular need to support NHS staff on the health economic benefits of complex speciality medicines, as indicated in McKinsey & Company’s recent Medical Affairs: Key Imperatives for Engaging and Educating Physicians in a Digital World report.
It states: “There is an increasing need for education and high-quality information, given the proliferation of specialty and more complex medicine.” The industry has to play an important role in collaborating with the NHS to keep staff abreast of the latest innovations and evidence to support the drive for outcomes-focused reimbursement models.
However, it is clear that pharma needs to modify its approach and consider different multi-channel methods, since the McKinsey report shows that although physicians’ use of digital content for discussion, research and collaboration continues to grow, “81% of physicians are dissatisfied with their interactions with biopharmaceutical companies, and more than 40% no longer perceive a ‘need’ for medical support from pharma”. Physicians’ dissatisfaction was said to be driven by a perceived lack of personalised, relevant content (28%) and appropriate communication channels (17%).
The highly regulated environment in which pharma operates is referenced in the McKinsey report as being partly to blame for industry’s failure to provide the kind of targeted, personalised digital communications for HCPs that are commonplace for customers in many other industries.
This isn’t helped by the rapid pace of structural change within the NHS, where new care models are emerging in different areas across England, key stakeholders often hold a number of roles and responsibilities, and collaborative decision-making is becoming increasingly important.
Despite these barriers, industry already has a wealth of approved and compliant information that can be shared through NHS staff intranets, as part of a more collaborative partnership approach both on and offline. This can enable NHS staff to gain easy access to vital information to help improve outcomes in key care pathways.
Content could range from clinical evidence papers, to trials results reported in conference highlights and clinical guidelines. Reports and outcomes from joint working initiatives that show, for example, how the re-design of a care pathway, combined with new treatments, is improving patient outcomes, could also provide valuable insight nationally and regionally.
By supporting continuing professional development (CPD), with knowledge-improving modules/quizzes, industry can add value to the cash-strapped NHS and help HCPs, who are finding it increasingly difficult to access traditional CPD courses, owing to funding cuts.
While historically the industry has prioritised promotional budgets and activity to drive sales performance, now is the time to explore equally measurable and focused routes to sharing the huge range of valuable clinical information at its disposal in order to work more closely with the NHS and help to optimise the performance of NHS staff. This, in turn, will build relationships, reputation and value for both the NHS and pharma.
As the resource constrained and cash strapped NHS looks for ways to collaborate with the life sciences industry to further improve and optimise patient outcomes, there is a substantial opportunity for the industry to align its own objectives by capitalising on its data, information and evidence.
About the author:
Simon Grime is director of Fendix.
The company has created the only online network of NHS organisations, providing digital access to staff through their Trust intranets. The platform offers a unique, secure and compliant channel, through which companies can disseminate professionally relevant messages and content to specific NHS staff audiences and can also be used to reach targeted patients through the NHS Trust public sites.
There are currently 72 NHS trusts in the Fendix network, reaching more than 300 hospitals and 450,000 staff.