During lockdown, Rachel Murphy, CEO of Difrent, and Richard Corbridge, director of high street healthcare at Boots UK, have come together to discuss how partnerships have been used in the fight against coronavirus, emphasising why they are important when it comes to digital health.

For Rachel, the coronavirus outbreak has brought together organisations who don’t usually work together.

“Covid-19 has thrown together suppliers who haven’t worked with each other before,” she says.

“Asking suppliers who are not renowned for their partnership ethos from all types of organisations has at times been one of the key challenges to delivery.  We have all had to learn fast, make compromises and evolve.

As the world deals with the pandemic in the UK, digital tools are emerging as the norm, with people getting used to having them around.

“The delivery of a remote first capability is becoming the norm, the current crisis has pushed that so hard that there can be no going back,” Rachel adds.

“Customers, patients and healthcare organisations will not want to return to what was, grudgingly accepted before.

“Which means that the different, unusual and complex partnerships between organisations we are seeing, must for the creation of successful environments and eco-systems to be created.”

Creating the right environment

When looking at health IT leadership, Richard believes the environment is moving towards partnerships.

For the last two or three years I think the digital health leadership environment in the UK has been slowly evolving its perspective towards partnerships, some of that I believe is because of organisations like the Digital Academy, KLAS, Digital Health and CHIME and some of it is related to the maturing of personal relationships across the digital leadership in the NHS,” he says.

“Maybe some of it is simply down to the changes in the NHS (and maybe just as much the lack of change).

“CIOs across health have come together as a necessity, to learn from each other, to share success and to learn from things that could have gone better. Maybe this is another reason why partnerships suddenly are more possible.”

Secret to success? 

But what is the secret of success? Rachel argues that those in the partnership need to be on the same page as to the problem they are solving.

“If there is clarity on the problem statement and people are working together to deliver the same outcome, then great things can be achieved,” she says.

“For that is key. The relationships that we have built and the ways of working we have implemented, will never be forgotten.”

Lasting impact

Looking at what the lasting impact of these new relationships and partnerships forged, Richard says it is creating the foundations for it to continue.

“We have now created an environment that supports the building of the eco-system of partnerships that digital healthcare leaders always dreamed of,” he says.

“Some of that is new attitude, some of that is new organisations like NHSX who actively are pushing to see partnerships happen and some of that is need, we have moved away from ego based partnerships where a winner was accepted and expected to eco-partnerships where we are all in it together to deliver better results for everyone.

“Long may this be the case.”