Raj Purewal from TRUSTECH on the changing world of healthcare consulting

14 December 2017 Consultancy.uk 6 min. read

Established over fifteen years ago as one of the first NHS innovation hubs, TRUSTECH today is one of UK’s larger specialised healthcare and NHS consultancies. In discussion with Consultancy.uk, Raj Purewal, business development and partnerships director at TRUSTECH, talks about the ever changing world of healthcare consulting and how the consulting firm with offices in Manchester, Liverpool and Daresbury is adding value to the sector.

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

I am a professional, with over 29 years of selling experience across: Pharmaceutical, IT and Managed Services Solutions to the Public (B2G) and Commercial (B2B) Sectors, where I have worked for organisations such as; Merck, Rank Xerox, Lexmark (IBM NewCo / IBM Alliance), Allscripts (Oasis Medical Solutions), Open Text, GHX, Ideagen, arvato and TRUSTECH.

At Lexmark, I was the Health Sector Sales Director responsible for the multi-million NHS-PASA managed services contract, and the £20 million per annum National Programme for IT. I have delivered new revenue for vendors of healthcare IT solutions and services covering EDRM, PAS, EPR, Workflow, BPO, ECM, EIM, BI, P2P and Supply Chain.

What is key to the success of the TRUSTECH model, and what differentiates you from other healthcare consultancies?

TRUSTECH is a company originally created by the NHS, and is still hosted by one of its biggest trusts, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. Our strong connections to the NHS give us in-depth and, crucially, up to date insight into how the institution works and how it is planning to change. With this insight, our clients can trust us to give the best possible advice on how to work with the NHS.Raj Purewal - TrustechOn the flip side, this close relationship to the NHS also allows us to understand the needs and challenges of every trust and clinician we work with. With this understanding, we can help them collaborate effectively and efficiently with the commercial sector.

Good business decisions and smart management have allowed us to remain a successful and forward thinking company. After national funding ended in 2012, many of the other innovation hubs altered course and became private companies. TRUSTECH has been able to remain as the intermediary for the NHS and the commercial world by establishing a membership model for our trusts and by developing effective innovation support services, such as the Innovation Factor.

Is there a plan for TRUSTECH to go global?

We do work with associates outside the UK on some of our projects. The GraftBolt ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tibial fixation device is currently licenced and being sold by the American company Arthrex, and we produce Innov-age magazine for Edwards Healthcare, a care provider with elder care facilities in China.

Currently, we are focused on expanding our client base on a national level, bringing our services first to the trusts in the North West and then to the rest of the UK. Our purpose is to continue as the NHS Innovation Experts. However, health innovations are needed in every corner of the world, and with a history of successful international projects and the success of our services in the UK, there is no reason we would not bring the TRUSTECH model to international clients in the future.

TRUSTECH started in 2001, what changes have you witnessed in healthcare innovation over the years?

As previously mentioned, the national funding for us and the other innovation hubs ended in 2012, and since then the NHS has experienced numerous financial challenges. Whilst promoting innovations in the long term can generate real financial benefits, it can be difficult for NHS organisations to find the budget for a comprehensive innovation service. Despite these difficulties however, the NHS has always held innovation as an essential part of improvement. They even included the acceleration of health innovation as one of their key methods for change in the Five Year Forward Year.

Healthcare innovation is an expanding field. What do you see as the current challenges?

The NHS, and many of its trusts, are still facing financial difficulties, with more cuts and a rapidly growing elderly population. New innovations to reduce expenses, shorten wait times, and allow for more out of hospital care are desperately needed, however for a trust, spending any of their budget on services not directly linked to patient care can be difficult.

These financial pressures can slow down innovation in other ways. Innovations are born out creativity and imagination, two things that are hard to come by when staff are facing increased daily pressures. This is why services such as our Innovation Factor are so important, to help stimulate and drive new ideas from where we need them the most.

Quote Raj Purewal

What type of healthcare projects are you commonly involved in?

TRUSTECH provides innovation support in a number of different ways, primarily through either our NHS programs or as commercial and academic consultancy. For the NHS, we provide the Innovation Factor™ to help capture innovations from trusts’ staff, and bespoke support for innovative ideas. This support can be for example, advice on patent protection, help with funding applications or research and also relevant industry engagement. For academic and commercial clients, we help qualify, develop and test new technologies, and advise on how they can be adapted or adopted for use in the NHS.

The projects themselves range from, technologically inventive MedTech products such as Rapid Rhythm; a handheld wireless ECG device for diagnosis of cardiac conditions, to more unique products, such as Sage & Thyme; a training package to help staff communicate with persons in emotional distress.

What’s a typical day like in healthcare consulting?

With the range of projects TRUSTECH works on, what we do each day can range from planning and delivering Dragons’ Den style innovation events for Clinical Commissioning Groups, to advising an inventive nurse on how best to develop her Butterfly Pillow for infants. Yet despite the variety of projects we work on, the goal is always the same. Improve healthcare by capturing, supporting and developing innovations.

When it comes to working with the NHS, it’s all about working with hardworking and determined people who never have quite enough time on their hands. Healthcare professionals whether clinical or corporate, are all busy and dedicated people, and they all face a variety of different challenges, so it’s important that we work with them, to help bring the support they need.

What do you see as the emerging trends in healthcare innovation in 2018?

More and more, trusts are looking to utilise modern technology to streamline acute care and promote care at a local or community level. With an aging population, it may not always be viable to diagnose and treat every patient in hospital. Nor is it economically viable to continue doing what we have always done without adopting something new that could improve care and treatment, especially given the difficult financial position many trusts find themselves in. Portable diagnosis devices and online video medical consultations could allow patients to get the treatment they need without visiting a hospital. Whilst smartphone apps and new digital filing systems will help speed up administrative procedures within hospitals, cutting down wait times and letting clinicians spend more of their time with patients.

Related: The Dragons' Den enables innovation in healthcare and NHS market.