UK: Can Partnerships Between Industry, Providers And Academia Deliver Health Systems That Are Fit For The Future?

Last Updated: 7 September 2016
Article by Karen Taylor

Our recent report, Vital Signs - How to deliver better healthcare across Europe, set out to explore how six European countries – Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and the UK – are tackling the common challenges that they face. We identified that one of the vital signs of a strong health economy is partnership working between healthcare providers, academia and industry. This week's blog explores what needs to be in place to create effective partnerships and deliver high quality healthcare. The blog first appeared in Scripi  and is the second in a series of exclusive columns that Deloitte is providing to Scrip, and which we agreed we would subsequently share with our own readers.

Almost every country in Europe thinks its health system is unique. While this may once have been the case, all countries are facing a similar range of challenges including the fall-out from the financial crisis; unrelenting demand pressures from a growing and aging population; and a miss-match between the demand for, and supply of, sufficient skilled professionals.

What differs is how each country approaches these challenges, what they are prepared to pay for, and what they are prepared to trade off or prioritize. Indeed, after decades of a relatively static and siloed approach to healthcare delivery, all countries are reviewing and reforming their healthcare systems in an attempt to restrict the rise in healthcare costs while improving the quality of care and ensure a health system that is fit for future.

One solution to the above challenges and an essential feature of a country's innovation, health and wealth strategy is the creation of trusted partnerships. Our supposition is that if such partnerships can be implemented effectively, they can help to deliver economic benefits alongside improvements to the health and wellbeing of people across Europe. This includes speeding up the innovation process to help medicines and technology move more quickly from conception to adoption at scale.

We believe that all patients, given a choice, would want to be treated with the latest drugs and medical devices, by clinicians who are at the top of their profession, using the most innovative services in the clinical pathway. Three types of partnerships make this possible:

  • basic science research, funded by partnerships between governments and industry for the discovery of new treatments, often measured by the number of early patents for drugs, devices and services;
  • translational research and applied medicine that support the development of new drugs and devices in clinical trials, using investigators and clinicians who are leading academics in their field;
  • partnering in the development of innovation, not just procuring, aimed at delivering person-centric health services and research to optimise clinical service delivery.

Such partnerships create a virtuous circle of excellence, including enabling healthcare to generate wealth rather than be perceived as simply a cost. In building a research base, such partnerships also create key knowledge-based employment. In short, a strong vital sign of a healthy economy is a well-integrated medical research community with trusted partnerships between healthcare providers, academia and industry leading to better health outcomes and a stronger economy.

To enable effective partnerships to thrive you need to have a number of favourable environmental conditions in place.  Amongst many other areas, this includes: a clear vision and strategy for the industry supported by government policies that encourage research and development (R&D), such as R&D tax credits, defined bio-medical clusters and life science 'enterprise zones'. You also need a large, diverse population (in terms of ethnicity, genetics and types of health conditions) to support clinical trials and research. As well as high-performing healthcare providers collaborating and sharing expertise, risk and reward to enable innovative services and products to reach patients.

To enable this to happen, governments across Europe need to work in partnership with industry to set the long term direction needed to attract life sciences investment and ensure that this investment translates into better care for patients. This includes speeding up the innovation process to help new medicines and technology move more quickly from conception to adoption at scale.

Partnerships between industry, providers and academia, like all of the Vital Signs, remain crucial to creating healthcare systems that are fit for the future. However, all stakeholders need to work together effectively to identify mutually beneficial solutions to tackle the rising costs and demand for care. Only then can we leverage advances in technology and innovation while managing costs in the interests of better patient outcomes.

Footnote

i https://scrip.pharmamedtechbi.com/SC097028/Government-Industry-Academic-Partnerships-Pivotal-To-Health-Systems-Fit-For-The-Future

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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