Partnerships and innovation are key to improving healthcare

By Katie Noon Health Economics & Outcomes Research Lead, Bristol Myers Squibb

Article first published in the Sustainable Healthcare report, distributed in The Guardian on 24th June 2021

The pandemic has put pharmaceutical companies into the spotlight, however their value is not just in supplying treatments but partnering with the system to support progress.

Before working at Bristol Myers Squibb, I’d assumed that the pharmaceutical industry wholly focussed on providing new treatments to patients. Of course, developing new treatments for patients that help them to manage their disease, stay well and live life to the full, in itself is an incredibly complex task. But it’s appreciating the network of activity that goes on all around this core purpose that has been a huge learning experience for me. An experience that I believe the wider public and media are understanding more, particularly in the wake of the pandemic.

Katie Noon

Pharmaceutical companies connect multiple stakeholders and engage in partnerships which have far-reaching and long-term impacts on the way that health systems operate, and how professionals provide medical assistance to those most in need. The delivery of drugs is crucial, but so is everything else on the patient journey, from early diagnosis to providing emotional support throughout treatment.

From my perspective, that is what I believe is the true purpose of the pharmaceutical sector. It is an enabler as well as a provider, excelling in strategic and process-driven approaches that help both the pharmaceutical industry itself and others to function more effectively.

Group of people sitting in a circle

Collaborating for change

Since I joined the company, what struck me was how quickly a conversation between a healthcare professional and industry can drive real changes to clinical practice. One recent example led to a pilot of annual pulse checks for diabetic patients to spot signs of non-valvular atrial fibrillation.

Partnerships have the potential to bring simple innovative ideas into practice, helping to improve patients’ quality of life and help reduce the burden on the health service.

We’ve also seen industry play an important role in response to the pandemic, from the work to develop vaccines and treatments to supporting the NHS respond to the backlog of non-COVID healthcare needs.

With hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, the NHS experienced interruptions to cancer services and treatment capacity issues due to the need for social distancing. To help the continuation of services, BMS partnered with a provider of Mobile Cancer Care Units, building two new units that will help bring treatment and services closer to patients’ homes.1

Working towards sustainable change for patients

Discovering how we within the industry can be accountable for sustainable changes to the healthcare system beyond the delivery of drugs, has inspired me to think of new ideas within my own role and I feel it is vital that everyone has the opportunity to explore these ideas.

Perhaps one of the most significant shifts from this past pandemic-scarred year is that a wider audience has been given more insight into the way we work. It is not simply about medicines, but we are also in a unique position to innovate through collaborations for the greater good and to bring meaningful change to both our industry and the wider healthcare network.


1. Bristol Myers Squibb: Delivering Care and Support to Communities Across the UK. Available from: Last accessed: May 2022

May 2022