Are your products pitched to tackle health inequalities? If not, you could be missing out.

Every one of the 1,250 Primary Care Networks across England has been set the task of tackling health inequalities – that’s 1,250 gilt-edged opportunities for Pharma, MedTech and Devices to engage and collaborate with the NHS.

But the problem is the industry often doesn’t even know these opportunities exist – let alone how to make the most of them.

How the industry can get involved

The PCN Direct Enhanced Service and Impact & Investment Fund for 2021/22/23 (published in September) requires that:

  • Each PCN must appoint a lead for tackling health inequalities within that PCN
  • By 31/12/21, they must be working with integrated care system partners to identify and engage a population experiencing health inequalities
  • From there they will codesign an intervention to address the unmet needs, with a plan agreed by 28/2/22
  • Delivery of the intervention to commence from March 2022 and run for 12 months.

To elaborate on those points – every network has got to appoint an inequalities lead. From there, they have to find a partner within that integrative care system. As an example, that could be the hospital, a community service, the voluntary sector or the mental health trust.

It can’t be a pharmaceutical company. Pharma can support the partnership but they are not allowed to be the actual partner.

That support from the industry client could be audit tools, training and education, pathway and guideline development or even additional clinical staff to support the PCN clinical teams.

That partnership then finds a population currently experiencing inequalities and designs an intervention to tackle those challenges.

Securing better outcomes for patients

Whenever a patient is not getting the best treatment or the optimal outcome, they are at risk of experiencing inequality – the gap between the best possible outcome and the one that the patient is experiencing.

To tackle this, the intervention could for example focus on:

  • improving patient outcomes
  • reducing unnecessary appointments within the system
  • reducing unnecessary referrals (possibly shifting care outside of hospital, where I have many examples, particularly in diagnostics)
  • reducing avoidable admissions to make the process easier and less stressful for patients
  • reduce the health inequality

By turning to Pharma/MedTech/Devices for support on a project, the PCN can expect a significant outcome for minimal work to get it up on its feet – and this is the golden market access opportunity lies.

Any industry company working to improve patient outcomes for people can engage with this. My Pharma/MedTech/Devices clients this year, which included wound care, allergies, heart failure, diabetes, COPD, chronic kidney disease, asthma oral nutritional supplements and dry eye disease, all pitched and secured a project to tackle inequalities and support a PCN (sometimes more than one PCN within an area).

Perhaps you’re a pharmaceutical firm who can help bring down referral times or a MedTech business with a project proved to reduce hospital admissions – you’re in a great position to plug into the PCN as a true partner and start delivering some fantastic outcomes.

You’ve got to be there from the start

This has been a brilliant route for my clients to go down, a great route for industry to embed itself within the NHS – and that goes well beyond general practice because there will be a system partner in there as well.

The short window for PCNs to be engaging the partner and scoping the project, which runs to December 31, was definitely doable and I now have my industry clients engaged in the PCNs and supporting delivery of the projects.

They will be actively involved in tackling inequalities on the ground, projects which are being readied for implementation in March 2022. They’ll also then be involved for the whole of the next year while that project is implemented.

Offering a two-cycle CQC audit was a ‘game-changer’

To all of these projects, we have added a two-cycle CQC audit, described by one of the London-based PCNs I support as a “game changer” because practices often struggle to do clinical CQC audits.

This is a massive opportunity – but only for those who spotted it and could then interpret it as something they could engage with.

While the December 31 deadline may mean many have lost out on opportunities here, there will be more that come along. To understand more about how to make the most of opportunities like this and how to embed your products in NHS treatment pathways, schedule a call and find out how we can support you.

We also offer a range of workshops and sales development assessment days to help your team better identify these opportunities for themselves. We work on live projects to make your time meaningful and can connect you with key decision-makers within the NHS.Scott McKenzie helps pharmaceutical, medical technology and device firms increase revenue by getting their products and services in front of the right NHS decision makers. If you want to get your products fully embedded into treatment pathways we can help you. We’ve doubled revenue for our clients and can share these processes with you too. If you want to improve the way you sell to the NHS you can watch our free webinar here