Collaboration Between Companies and the Role of Employees in the New Business Models
This is the third in our series of articles titled Lessons Learned from the Pandemic, a tour of the issues that have intersected with us over the past two years. Health crises and their economic consequences, social impact, new ways of working, virtuality, and new forms of health care are some of the big issues we will be looking at in this series.
In this latest installment, we look at two issues about which the conversation has deepened and taken on more significance because of the pandemic: collaboration between companies and the role of employees in the new business models.
LESSON 5: COLLABORATION BETWEEN COMPANIES IS KEY TO ACHIEVING DEVELOPMENT IN THE SECTOR
The health-care industry—and particularly the medical-device industry—has undergone major changes. For some years we have seen how the collaboration among companies, the interaction of various industries, and the incorporation of technology have developed the enormous advances that we find in the market today. Instagram, for example, has gone from a recreational social network to an e-commerce platform where you can find any kind of content, product, or service—medical devices among them.
Accounts like @buscare give us the opportunity to have a professional medical consultation from the comfort of our own living rooms, which brings us a new type of care associated with a new concept in health: the healthy experience. This has been developed by businesses and entrepreneurs that have identified the needs of users and turned them into a profitable business.
Clearly these experiences have been understood by larger companies, which are the ones that make the difference in terms of volume and the ability to bring large-scale change to the market. For example, Boston Scientific is about to launch a pilot with a company engaging in remote monitoring and patient tracking from home. The leaders that are characterized by their level of adaptation are the ones that usually take the biggest risks, which in cases such as this one, are good decisions. Collaborating among competitors opens new doors for the development of any market. Losing the fear of the “enemy” and joining them so that both can benefit is the way of the future. This kind of collaborator has been referred to as a “frenemy” (a portmanteau of friend and enemy). This is why it is important to continue to build collaborative work spaces between industries that focus on the same users or customers with complementary approaches.
As we mentioned previously, this trend grew stronger still with the pandemic, which put us in situations of stress and extreme need. There were times when no matter how many resources we had, if we did not work together it was impossible to get ahead.
The situation we have lived through has forced us to change the way we think about business, and to understand that collaboration generates more benefits than competition. Companies are taking the first steps along a path that will enable us to have products and services that are more aligned with consumers’ new needs.
Collaborating with competitors is the new trend. Toyota and General Motors assembling motor vehicles, and Cannon supplying Kodak with photocopiers, are examples of large companies that are renowned for being fierce competitors. The advantage that the industry of medical devices—fundamental in health systems—has is that many of them present opportunities for collaboration in relation to their technologies, which would help lower R&D costs, allow more mass production, and consequently democratize access.
It is possible that much of what we are proposing in this article may be seen as utopian, but we are convinced that the future has come to the sector and that real transformation is just a matter of making decisions with an impact beyond the profits of each individual company.
Are we ready for this change?
LESSON 6: BUSINESS IS STRENGTHENED BY EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
Very much in line with the previous lesson, as the days went by and we were unable to leave the house, companies began to see all their investment plans being called into question. This situation forced us to rethink the paradigms we felt comfortable with to make way for new forms of collaboration and more efficient interactions.
This change fueled the wave of new working relationships, for both for companies and employees, and we now understand that we are part of the same team, which has to be flexible, open to change, capable of working both from home and in person, and above all, empathetic. Soft skills during the pandemic have been among those most sought after, often more so than the skills inherent to the job, and this situation has generated great opportunities in interpersonal relationships on all levels. The ability to adapt, lead and be creative were key during the pandemic.
We have seen how it is possible to reconvert in just a few days, to be efficient and effective on any schedule, attend to several things at once, and help those who suffered most. We have now emerged from the crisis, and are beginning to return to what is termed the “new normal”—hybrid or combined schemes that have existed for those who have been in freelance work or have generated customized working relationships, the most widely known being part time, fixed term, and remote.
Hybrid work is a redesign of communications. The challenge we have today is getting the masses to adapt to all these schemes while keeping the corporate culture present, because employee commitment has been shown to be the factor that can make or break businesses.
The sector cannot take a step back and return to the old ways of doing things. The pandemic underpinned an evolution toward interactions that are more efficient in terms of the time they take up in our lives, and more enjoyable in terms of what they generate for us emotionally. It is time to redefine ways of working and collaborating with the needs of companies, customers, and employees.
At GHI, we always approach subjects from a constructive angle in an attempt to generate productive debate. The objective of this series has been to go back and look at issues that have become trending topics over the last two years: digitalization in the industry, the role of the patient, the need to think about health systems in a preventive rather than a reactive way, approaching crises as a moment of opportunity, working hand in hand with competing companies, and joining with collaborators as an indispensable way to achieving success in organizations.
We are clearly facing major challenges in the health sector, and critical changes throughout its structures. The best lessons are learned through mistakes, and it is up to us to adapt or to stagnate in our comfort zone.
Contact us if you are interested in exploring further how these lessons are being applied, perhaps through a personalized study that will help you outline new strategies for your business or create new initiatives. We can also provide you with subscriptions to our data services, such as HospiScope, SurgiScope, El Monitoreo de Hospitales Latinoamericanos, and others.