Over the past 20 years, much has been written about hospital–industry partnerships (also known as Public–Private Partnerships or PPPs). Though they have as many champions as detractors, and there are lessons to be learned, in today’s increasingly strained healthcare systems, their potential is undeniable.
Despite the importance and value of these partnerships, through our own newly-launched CareAdvantage approach and other value-based offerings, the challenge of making this relatively new mechanism work well in an already complex sector is considerable. This intricacy is what led us to partner with Hospital Healthcare Europe (HHE) on the delivery of an independent report for 2018, “Perspectives on Hospital and Industry Partnerships: The Aim of Improving Outcomes, Increasing Patient Satisfaction and Reducing Costs.”
We hoped that, by providing us with direct insights from healthcare leaders and stakeholders across EMEA, the report would allow us to better understand the concerns and opportunities that are shaping today’s awareness of these partnerships. I’m pleased to say that it has done just that.
Much of the study’s findings deserve close consideration but I would like to highlight three of the most well-reported insights that, to me, have resonated most clearly.
A shift in perceptions
Firstly, hospital–industry partnerships are increasingly seen as “a welcome addition to hospital stakeholders and healthcare system decision makers’ armamentarium.” There is still some wariness and hesitation in working with third parties – the private sector must be able to convince healthcare providers that patient outcomes are as important tous as they are to them – but “fresh eyes that challenge current systems…are needed.” Although they are not yet fully embraced across the sector, this shift towards viewing hospital–industry partnerships as a welcome step forward is very promising.
Another valuable indication from the report is that there is now a true understanding that both parties bring different strengths to the table. Hospitals and healthcare providers can forecast and identify gaps in accessibility and quality. From our side, the private sector can leverage its expertise in clinical, administrative and support services to drive efficiencies that will positively impact patient care. Healthcare leaders have agreed that accessing different skills is a potential advantage to developing partnerships with industry, and there is a growing understanding that this can lead to positive results for both caregivers and patients. As several respondents commented, if the relevant skillset exists outside of the hospital, within the commercial sector, then “why not use it?”
Progression and promise
A final key insight from the report is an overarching plea from all stakeholders involved: all partnerships should begin with a clear objective specified, with well-defined roles and responsibilities, and continuous performance management. Not only should there be a commitment to fully understand hospital needs, and transparent monitoring of outcomes (both of which are key tenets of the CareAdvantage approach), but this should be combined with the open-minds of stakeholders. Again, this is a promising development that suggests the future of hospital–industry partnerships will be increasingly open and innovative.
The study’s findings have reaffirmed our understanding that, given the complexity and the precise needs and requirements for each hospital, provider, country and region, there can be no magic bullet. However, I’m hopeful that the careful and targeted use of partnerships will be used more frequently to address the fundamental issues of accessibility, quality, and affordability – in new and creative ways.
It’s increasingly evident that by working together synergistically we will be able to accomplish far more than either can do alone.