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How the NHS and industry can join forces with data to save lives

The NHS and industry are often "problematic partners". The relationship between both parties has often been challenging with the NHS a complicated organisation to work with. And pharma often lacks an understanding of how the NHS works and the reality of working in the NHS.

ZPB’s aim of increasing collaboration across the healthcare ecosystem brought together executives and senior leaders from pharma, tech and healthcare to find the common ground and areas on which to align.

Presenting at a recent global pharma company strategy day, Zoe Bedford, our CEO, presented some of the commonalities between ICS goals and pharma company goals. We should be encouraged by the shared vision of both industry and the NHS, but often the trust between both groups creates issues. Post-pandemic this is changing with the industry improving their partnership capabilities and the NHS becoming more aware of the support they need.

At our latest roundtable, we were joined by Dr Marc Farr, Chief Analytical Officer, East Kent Hospitals NHSFT and Kent and Medway ICB. Also, Senior Research Fellow at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) and Founder of OpenDataSavesLives and guests from across pharma, tech, and health services to discuss partnerships between industry and the local NHS health economies. Given the budgetary and inflationary pressures facing the UK, we looked at what our immediate priorities should be to have the most impact in the shortest time.

This roundtable builds upon our recent event with Dr Claire Bloomfield, who discussed the Department of Health's strategy Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data from the national perspective. We came away from that meeting with some key areas of focus which included strengthening regional data collection and gathering use cases and developing commercial principles and value-sharing frameworks with industry to allow better negotiation on data access.

Marc Farr is a local leader who is making the data strategy a reality every day in the NHS and he shared his experiences. The discussion led by Marc highlighted key areas:

NHS, Academia, and Industry should all join forces

  • There was an eagerness to involve all three of these sectors in data collaborations. Marc, in particular, talked about combining the power of pharma companies, universities, and an ICS.

  • The challenge here is to create a vehicle for this to happen. Can this be done easily without governance and process getting in the way?

Demand signalling

  • As at the previous roundtable, there is a clear need for the NHS at an ICS level to present pharma and industry with their key focus and their data priorities.

  • If this happens pharma can more easily understand which ICSs are the most appropriate to work with on common goals. This should lead to more straightforward partnerships.

The NHS needs the capabilities that industry possesses

  • The NHS is usually in need of capability, capacity, or cash. We aren’t maximising the full potential of the rich data collected by the NHS without the capacity and capability to analyse it.

  • At an ICS level, they need resource and support – industry can provide this.

Health inequalities

  • This is still a crucial component of healthcare for both parties.

  • Despite it being a complex challenge, the unjust and avoidable differences in people's health across the population and between specific population groups must be tackled and data can allow this to be diagnosed and impacted positively.

Sharing open-source data

  • The ethos of Open Data Saves Lives is "Let’s publish it."

  • There was a real sense from all attendees around removing silos and allowing data to be published and shared for the greater good of patient care. We must ensure that data governance and compliance must not halt this opportunity to improve patient care.

  • Collaborating across organisations and industries is the only way the data strategy can become realised and have an impact.

Following our round table discussion, we (ZPB) are:

1. Looking at specific projects ICS and industry should be partnering on.

2. Continuing to bring NHS and the private sector together to drive further collaboration.

Get in touch if any of the topics discussed are of interest. We would be keen to talk to you.


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