Collaboration is the key to a sunnier future

Farewell summer 2011. The holiday blue skies, warm oceans and sandy beaches are gone and with them the friendly tavernas and tapas bars. Welcome back to life in the UK healthcare sector. Autumn beckons and winter looms, both likely to be hallmarked by continued economic austerity.

Yet despite the challenges, there are opportunities and the chances of realising them can be radically improved by working together. In fact collaboration is topping the agenda right now, with critics of the Health and Social Care Bill having persuaded the government to put integrated care at the heart of the NHS Future Forum’s latest round of work. Just as healthcare providers need to work together to provide joined-up care for patients, more suppliers could be co-operating to offer seamless services.

We find this is very much the case in healthcare IT where companies which forge effective partnerships can be highly attractive to potential customers. That’s partly because it removes hassle. Anyone in the sector will be familiar with the customer’s lament that they can’t get suppliers talking to each other. The result is delay, expense and frustration.

It also means damaged reputations. When customers have a problem they don’t really care whose fault it is. What bothers them is whether the people they are dealing with appear accommodating and helpful or slopey-shouldered and awkward. Where suppliers join forces in order to seek common opportunities, and use their collective talents to win contracts, customers are more confident that a project will run smoothly.

Highland Marketing has seen this approach bear fruit time and again through the One Health Alliance. This is a group we facilitate which brings together companies with matching capabilities, giving them a relaxed forum in which to explore issues of mutual interest. Over the years it has yielded many and varied business benefits for members.

Regardless of how suppliers go about forming alliances, I can hardly imagine there has been a more important time to co-operate than the present. At a moment when everyone is seeking a competitive edge, collaboration can be the key. That’s not just because companies can form a common front for customers, but also because their own interaction often makes them more creative. That kind of dynamism enhances the chances of winning new business, and with it the hopes of an economically sunnier 2012.

What do health tech leaders want from the general election campaign?
Secrets from the algorithm: insights from Google’s Search Content Warehouse API leak
What will the general election mean for the NHS and health tech?
Back to (business school) basics
NHS finances: cuts get real