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Simon Grime explores opportunities for the NHS to work in partnership with industry online


Both the NHS and pharma recognise the need and the opportunity to collaborate more closely to help improve patient care and outcomes, and this was the theme of the recent HSJ Life Sciences Forum.  

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A wide range of topics were discussed at the event, which was attended by senior representatives from pharma, medtech and the NHS. These topics included the need for an increased focus on identifying relevant, outcomes-focused opportunities, such as joint working initiatives, and the value of sharing them, as best practice examples, across the NHS Trust regions.  

The NHS needs the resources that pharma can bring to bear, and pharma needs to build its customer relationships in key regions, whilst also utilising the huge amount of valuable clinical information that it holds and could share.

However, a recent report from McKinsey & Company suggests that HCPs are struggling to obtain the type of information they need from biopharma and it is not disseminated through appropriate channels.

How can pharma better support the NHS?

The recent McKinsey & Company report titled: “Medical Affairs: Key Imperatives for engaging and educating physicians in a digital world”, states that ‘81 percent of physicians are dissatisfied with their interactions with biopharmaceutical companies, and more than 40 percent no longer perceive a “need” for medical support from pharma’.  

The report claimed that physicians’ dissatisfaction is driven by a perceived lack of personalised, relevant content (28 percent) and appropriate communication channels (17 percent).

As referenced in the report, the highly regulated environment in which pharma and biopharma companies operate is partly to blame for their failure to harness the power of digital channels to provide the kind of targeted, personalised digital communications for HCPs that are commonplace for customers in many other industries.

I believe 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, I believe that pharma has a wealth of approved and compliant information that could be highly beneficial in helping NHS staff to keep abreast of the latest developments and thinking in disease and therapy areas.

Pharma has a wealth of approved and compliant information that could be highly beneficial in helping NHS staff to keep abreast of the latest developments

This content ranges from clinical evidence papers, to trials results reported in conference highlights and clinical guidelines. Reports from joint working initiatives that show, for example, how new treatments are changing patient pathways, could also provide useful insights to selected staff nationally and regionally.

Pharma can also support HCPs by sponsoring Continuing Professional Development (CPD) modules, which could include questionnaires and case studies. This could be particularly useful since many HCPs are finding it increasingly difficult to access traditional CPD courses, following funding cuts.

Naturally, pharma has historically prioritised promotional budgets and activity to drive sales performance. However, now is the time to explore how pharma can share 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.

The value of working with the NHS online

As the McKinsey report states, it’s not just about getting the content right; it’s also important to disseminate it via appropriate channels that HCPs trust and visit regularly. It needs to be tailored to specific groups of staff too. One such channel that fulfils all these requirements is the NHS’s own staff intranets.

To enable NHS staff intranets to be used in this way, Fendix has created the only online network of NHS organisations, providing unrivalled digital access to their staff through their intranets. The platform offers a unique, secure and compliant channel, through which organisations can disseminate professionally relevant messages and content to specific NHS staff audiences within their highly trusted online work environment. This valuable content is designed to improve staff knowledge, therefore optimising effectiveness to improve patient outcomes.

It’s also important to disseminate information via appropriate channels that HCPs trust and visit regularly, such as the NHS’s own staff intranets

In addition to helping to provide relevant information on NHS staff intranets, opportunities also exist to engage the patient population by making relevant, supporting patient information available on NHS public websites. By signposting its availability to the prescribing clinicians, via the corresponding staff intranets, and to the patient at the point of dispense, pharma can provide a very joined up and tailored experience.

There are currently 71 NHS trusts in the Fendix network, reaching more than 300 hospitals and 450,000 staff. Staff can be segmented by functions, seniority and speciality, and also by region, including senior management.

In addition, all contracted NHS organisations in the Fendix network receive a revenue share, which can be used for initiatives to improve patient care, for example.


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, as well as staff resources, there is an opportunity for pharma to align its own objectives by sharing existing data, information and evidence

For more information on Fendix, log on to www.fendixmedia.co.uk