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How can medtech engage with key stakeholders in new NHS care models?

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Oli Hudson, of the Wilmington Healthcare consulting team, explores the value of a blended learning approach, underpinned by data, insight and analysis.

New care models and integration are changing the way the NHS operates, bringing a wide range of different, and often non-clinical, stakeholders into the decision-making mix, who have the power to significantly alter the business model for medtech.

For example, sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) encompass stakeholders from across care sectors and bring together commissioners and providers. Other STP stakeholders may include representatives of Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), pharmacists, local authority officers, charities and patient groups.

Consequently, a transformation lead within an STP diagnostic pathway may not necessarily be a clinician, yet they could radically alter care pathways by, for example, determining where pathology laboratories will be sited, who will run them, and what services will be provided – including the tests that will be conducted.

Unlike clinicians, who tend to be fairly narrow in their focus, transformation leads, finance directors and commissioners need to understand how a medical device will deliver value and improve patient outcomes across the whole care pathway. So, for medtech, it is no longer simply a matter of selling a product to a clinician; it must sell the value concept within the management echelons of the NHS too.

To achieve this, medtech companies need comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) data; plus information on the needs and priorities of local healthcare economies. Medtech companies should also gather insight from real world data sources, such as Hospital Episodes Statistics (HES) and NHS RightCare’s optimum patient pathways. Changes to services being made by the GIRFT (Getting It Right First Time) programme should be taken into account too.

Such insight will enable medtech companies to identify the right customers, understand the various roles and responsibilities they hold, and define the messages that will resonate with them. It will also help them to tailor their messages to the varying needs of the 44 local STP healthcare economies.

How can blended learning help?

Understanding the clinical area; the product profile; its value within the whole care pathway; and how and to whom it should be sold within the NHS, is challenging.   Each medtech sector is so specific in terms of its learning needs that an off-the- shelf learning solution can only be the beginning; learning often needs to be tailored to the requirements of an individual company.

This is where a blended learning package, underpinned by comprehensive data, insight and analysis, can be invaluable in enabling the creation of bespoke educational services that are tailored to an individual company’s niche market. This is partly because blended learning encompasses a number of different approaches: namely e-learning, face-to-face training, consultancy and attendance at events.

This means a package containing these different interventions can teach different things to different people within the company; a key advantage over consultancy targeted at C-suite level which relies on information trickling down to lower levels within the company, rather than addressing a range of different learning needs.

Blended learning can be delivered to a whole company and it can change the whole company’s culture. It can make sales people more credible and confident. It can also ease the sales process, demystify it and give it a competitive edge.

At Wilmington Healthcare, we have recently enhanced our Digital Learning Academy (DLA) as part of our blended learning offering to medtech. The DLA helps medtech staff working in areas such as market access, sales and marketing, and medical science liaison to keep abreast of NHS developments, policies and constraints.

The DLA has refreshed, in-depth content and a range of new interactive online learning courses with videos, which can now be accessed on any device from a desktop to an iPad or smartphone.

New courses on offer include: “What do you need to know about NHS England’s plan for ICSs and ICOs?”, which addresses how integrated care systems and integrated care organisations will start to replace STPs.  The platform also has an improved reporting system for managers to track the progress of their staff.

The DLA complements the face-to-face meetings and events that Wilmington Healthcare runs and the consultancy and data services it provides to help medtech companies understand the changing marketplace and their place within it.

Conclusion

The powerbase within the NHS is shifting as it moves to more integrated health and social care models in which non-clinical staff and commissioners from related areas play an increasingly pivotal role in decision-making. Medtech must keep abreast of these changes and tailor its engagement strategies accordingly.

A blended learning approach, which has data, insight and analysis at its heart, can give medtech companies the edge in developing a clear and effective way in which to identify and engage with different stakeholders. It can also enable knowledge to be cascaded through a company, quickly and efficiently through a variety of channels to ensure that all staff understand what is required to engage within the fast-changing, outcomes-focused NHS.