The global healthcare consulting market continues to grow, and with the importance of improving healthcare through efficiencies, innovation and the benefits it brings, is centre stage. Consultancy.uk spoke with Raj Purewal, business development and partnerships director at TRUSTECH, a healthcare consultancy established in 2001, about the unique offering that smaller consultancies can bring to the table and his take on TRUSTECH’s own success.
The increased focus on healthcare innovation has led to significant investment in the UK, and across the country there are many funding initiatives in place, geographically and by specialism, to drive innovation; to inspire people to voice their ideas; and to boost adoption. In a bid to tap into the change in the marketplace, healthcare institutions are turning to consultancies to support them with strategic and technology-led transitions. According to Purewal, the growing complexity of the market as well as change programmes transitions is opening doors for consultancies specialising in this field of expertise, with many of those finding themselves in a niche that many larger players cannot match.
So what factors are leading the success of these healthcare consultancies? “Smaller consultancies often benefit from a greater level of flexibility, and are able to respond to changes in the market quickly and smoothly, which of course enables them to flourish and carve a niche position in the healthcare industry”, says Purewal.
The partnerships director, who has been with the firm for roughly three years, highlights that TRUSTECH for instance has secured a thriving spot in the healthcare consultancy market, and has been able to use smaller consultancy status to its advantage. “One of the reasons behind this success are the robust links between healthcare academia, industry and the NHS, and the innovative resources, expertise and facilities this provides; an offering that even the big consultancies struggle to compete with, but an area where smaller consultancies often come into their own”, he states.
Purewal adds that TRUSTECH – which is not a commercial consulting firm, but an NHS innovation service provider – has further been able to thrive on the back of a collaborative model within the healthcare ecosystem. “Solutions to healthcare innovation do not exist in one sector alone, the NHS needs to collaborate with different sectors and forge strong bonds with other businesses and individuals in order to evolve”, he explains.
Location is key
Alongside the collaborations, geographical position can also play a part in the success of smaller healthcare consultancies. Evidence suggests that clusters of like-minded businesses within sectors works well. Purewal explains: “TRUSTECH for instance is located in Manchester; a global hotspot for healthcare innovation. Manchester is indeed a world-class example of the success that results from the clustering of organisations across different technology and services sectors; collaborating to achieve a unified goal.”
The City boasts impressive credentials, and is throughout the UK recognised as a medical and health sector pioneer. The NHS was founded in the city in 1948; and the world’s first in vitro / test tube baby was born in Manchester. More recently, Manchester has seen an expansion of its cluster of thriving healthcare companies. One of the drivers for this was, according to Purewal, that a number of the organisations based in Greater Manchester decided to work together more closely and initiated plans to make Manchester “one of the hotspots for healthcare innovation, not just in Europe, but the world.”
The North West is also is a fertile breeding ground for healthcare entrepreneurs and start-up companies, attracting many to relocate to the area to gain from well-established links to networks, facilities, expertise, funding options and opportunities. In particular, Manchester’s innovation ecosystem is home to the largest integrated clinical-academic campus in Europe, Europe’s biggest cancer treatment centre and a number of top quality medical research institutes.
“This is a prime example that demonstrates how location has the ability to attract high profile healthcare business because of the facilities, expertise and resources available which in turn provides perfect ground for smaller consultancies to flourish”, remarks Purewal.
A step further
Despite the edge smaller consultancies may have, the market however is developing rapidly, making advancement in business models and offerings an essential part of strategies. “Remaining static isn’t a sustainable option, so operations must continue to evolve.”
In the healthcare sector, the surge in MedTech growth has seen a wave of specialist facilities emerge. Purewal gives the MedTECH Centre Incubator, a joint venture between TRUSTECH, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT) and Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP), as an example. “The MTCi is built on the premise that the NHS needs to engage with innovators and cultivate new ideas. It is also one of the first joint ventures of its kind between the NHS and the private sector.”
He adds: “The MTCi is a collective effort, and shows another example of where the NHS and the private sector collaborate to meet the needs of the healthcare system; it provides a new approach to the development of medical technology and through this we are seeing an acceleration of much needed new products into the market.”
This crucial link between industries is taken a step further with Citylabs where innovative ideas are incubated and nurtured. Strategically aligned with the NHS ‘Innovation, Health and Wealth’ agenda, this partnership between the NHS, academic health science communities and industry, has been so successful that plans for further expansion are already underway.
Replicating existing success
Purewal says that the success of this type of consultancy model could be replicated elsewhere. “What’s important for smaller healthcare consultancies is to focus on their key skills and expertise, and enhance this offering via collaboration with professionals across industry internationally.”
Commenting on TRUSTECH’s ambition for the months to come, he concludes, “As a smaller healthcare consultancy ourselves, the challenge now is to maintain this position, and build upon existing foundations to ensure the longevity of our world class hub in healthcare innovation.”