It would have to be the way pharma and the NHS work 'in partnership'!
Over the years, significant changes to the NHS have made the industry re-evaluate customer engagement strategies. In the 'good old days', with blockbuster after blockbuster, the industry's model seemed simple. In this 'share of voice' era, if you got the right message to doctors, whose decision to prescribe was largely based on data and price - sales would follow.
But did this era build mistrust? Were we working to meet customer needs and improve patient outcomes, or were we driving market penetration (whilst also improving outcomes)?
Today's NHS is very different. Bodies such as NICE and the SMC influence the availability of new innovations and GP prescribing is bound by protocols and treatment pathways. And there's more to come with VBP just around the corner! Consequently, there must be a significant change to our customer engagement model. The industry is grappling with structures based on Key Account Management and Market Access strategies. Some are relatively simple, whilst others are unnecessarily complex. Surely, the answer is to keep it simple and focus on the needs of customers by building meaningful partnerships for the benefit of patients.
Currently, the NHS seems serious about creating partnerships with the industry. However, the industry is in danger of putting barriers in place, such as over zealous compliance requirements. Clearly, pharma involvement in healthcare delivery must be beyond reproach and within guidelines, but the opportunity is there. By focussing on improving patient care and helping the NHS meet the needs of their local healthcare economy, we cannot really go wrong.
My experience as a service provider to pharma has shown that the best way to work with a customer is to 'own their challenge'. By having this focus in all dealings with your customer, there is a great chance of building a beneficial partnership where everything becomes possible through pooling expertise and resources. I believe the same applies in pharma's relationship with the NHS and that the service sector can significantly help pharma build trust and true partnerships. As the old adage goes 'The Customer is King' - so long live the king and let's really embrace this opportunity!
Steve Kerridge, Chairman, Apodi Ltd.