Attending the event on Capsticks’ behalf were Stephen Tainsh, Jamie Cuffe, Jane Barker and Anoop Chana. As part of the session, Capsticks delivered two sessions on Intellectual Property; Jamie Cuffe and Jane Barker delivered sessions on intellectual property and the pitfalls/disputes that often arise. Stephen Tainsh delivered a session on business models.

Income generation – renewed interest?

The NHS is renowned worldwide for its delivery of high-quality patient care and ever improving safety standards. There is an ever-growing international market for robust, innovative healthcare systems; Healthcare UK estimate healthcare spend is growing at around 7% per annum. The UK’s care models and treatment offered are of keen interest across the world, with China, India and countries in the Middle East and Latin America keen to tap into the UK’s healthcare system.

So what is the benefit to the UK? Healthcare UK is a joint initiative between the Department of International Trade, the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England. Healthcare UK aims to encourage UK health providers / ALBs to promote and provide their services overseas and ultimately win overseas contracts for healthcare services.

This has the dual benefit of establishing a partnership or other business arrangement with an international public / private healthcare body to promote the UK’s healthcare services and share knowledge with those who need it. It also allows for UK health providers to generate and ultimately receive income from those ALBs which can be fed back into the NHS and other independent healthcare bodies. For instance, Healthcare UK reported £100 million in export wins in 2017/18.

So what are the issues?

The session led by Healthcare UK highlighted a number of issues ALBs face when looking to exploit their brand / services, internationally, particularly in the current climate.

  1. Legislation / Intellectual Property – a key stumbling block to any exploitation of services (including intellectual property rights) abroad. Different countries have different governing laws on cross-border agreements for example which may prove a stumbling block, especially if significant costs are involved. Intellectual property (IP) for example, if exploited abroad can present issues for the owner of the IP rights when seeking to licence their IP rights. Will it be costly? Would I be at risk of any claims for breach of another company’s / individuals intellectual property?
  2. Costs – with the NHS already facing financial difficulty, ALBs often find they struggle to have enough capital to fully invest and promote their services abroad. Such costs can include secondment of employees, advertising, teaching, providing equipment / materials etc. ALBs will also need to consider the amount of revenue they will generate from providing healthcare services abroad, so that a reasonable proportion can be re-invested to the ALB.
  3. Cultural issues – does the organisation, and individuals within the organisation, see income generation as part of its job?

The benefits of ALBs exploiting public health services abroad include:

  • Shared learning – investing in our healthcare aboard allows those countries / institution who are less advanced in their healthcare than ours, to benefit those countries / institutions and their patients. Equally, ALBs can learn / understand about different healthcare systems abroad and implement them back into the UK, for the benefit of patients as a whole
  • Income generation – perhaps the most key theme as outlined above. ALBs can help deliver healthcare services abroad, and intellectual property where relevant, to generate income to be fed-back into the UK healthcare system. During the session, Stephen Tainsh set out the different business models UK health bodies can enter into to aid this process; including, joint ventures and ‘spin-out’ companies.

How can Capsticks help?

It is clear that going forward, ALBs will be encouraged to generate income, for the benefit of international healthcare institutions and their patients as well as those from the UK. Developing business models and licencing / assigning intellectual property rights abroad, are two key ways in which ALBs can do this.

Our intellectual property and commercial department can assist and advise on a wide array of intellectual property issues; from advice on assignment and licensing of IP rights to litigating IP disputes in the courts. For more information, please speak to Jamie Cuffe and Jane Barker.

Stephen Tainsh has extensive knowledge and experience of business models including joint ventures, partnerships and spin-out companies. Stephen is well versed in advising a vast array of public and private sector clients, for more information, please contact Stephen Tainsh.