By Helen Mooney, Senior Content Manager
2020 has been a year like no other, and we are not even at the end of the third quarter. With the COVID-19 crisis still rampaging across the world with little sign of abating any time soon, it is more important than ever to try and take stock and take heart in the positive achievements that have made it out of such a tumultuous period.
At almost exactly the same time the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was issuing his latest edict decreeing once again that no more than six people could meet socially in mid-September, the ‘Operation Reset in Practice’ webinar audience chaired by ZPB and hosted by the Healthcare Communications Association was hearing about the heroic efforts of those working in drug discovery and clinical development over the past six months.
Even though social restrictions are still very much in place, and there is an increasing likelihood of a second COVID-19 wave in the coming months, there are still many positives to draw from. Webinar panellists Samuel Hollis, Business Unit Director for the Cardiology and Respiratory Franchises at Novartis UK, Graham Kendall, the Chair of the Digital Healthcare Council and Parker Moss, Chief Commercial and Partnership Officer at Genomics England told an audience of comms and marketing professionals how real and lasting partnership between the public and private sectors would be one of the positive lasting legacies of the pandemic. Most people agree that the public sector alone cannot solve all the challenges that have been thrown at in recent months. Industry, life sciences and academia must be let in and be given a seat at the table. Collaboration is more important than ever.
A positive consequence is that there has been an increase in equal access to clinical trials and therapies across all patient groups and communities.
The audience heard how pharma can help to drive value into the healthcare system at both a local and national level and should align around a common set of objectives, so as to help sustain the levels of trust that have been built up both between individuals and organisations over the past six months.
As the NHS COVID-19 reset continues at pace one thing is clear the NHS and private sector can no longer work independently of each other. Integrated care systems are still very much part of the agenda and the government is pushing forward with their roll out next year. Whilst the pandemic has once more shone a spotlight on the stark health, social and economic inequalities across Britain another positive consequence is that there has been an increase in equal access to clinical trials and therapies across all patient groups and communities. Those organisations supporting this inclusivity agenda will find themselves in much greater demand. Long may this continue.
In July NHS England recently laid out its key priorities for the third phase of the NHS’ response to COVID-19. The government is pushing the NHS hard for a return to near-normal levels of non-COVID-19 health services whilst addressing the backlog. NHS organisations must also simultaneously prepare for winter pressures against a backdrop of likely COVID-19 spikes and the looming spectre of the second wave whilst all the while being asked to learn from the first wave especially in supporting staff, guarding against inequalities and promoting prevention.
Finding something truly relevant and interesting to say will also be key. If we do, we may see the dawn of a new age for both the communications and pharma industry in their partnerships with the NHS.
This is all happening at a pace so anyone working with or within the NHS must quickly understand who their payors are; what are the regional priorities and where the differences lie. This will require a significant rethink from the industry about who their customers and stakeholders are, and how they engage and communicate with them. New groups are also emerging- community services for one, traditionally overlooked, they are now leading some of the moves to integrated care models.
In this sector, the talk all too often turns to shared goals and common purpose – this time it seems there is a new willingness to accept that there is a new vision between industry and NHS. What is evident is that now, more than ever before, it is paramount to know be able to navigate this system and not just take it at face value. Finding something truly relevant and interesting to say will also be key. If we do, we may see the dawn of a new age for both the communications and pharma industry in their partnerships with the NHS.
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