Over the last few months I have taken some time with the team to reflect and provide clarity on where we are now, where we want to be and how to get there! We agreed that Clarity Consulting is all about Making Change Happen and this strapline will guide our purpose going into 2019. We think most parts of the NHS know what needs to be done, but need support to plan and execute their biggest priorities.
2018 was a big year in many ways. On a personal level, I moved from London to Oxford, welcomed a second child and sent my 5-year-old out into the world of education. For Clarity, my founding partner and now chairman Mark Smith, continued his treatment for cancer and we welcomed Paul Sly as our third partner. We continued to grow, made some key new appointments and succeeded in moving our centre of gravity northwards from our South of England base. We took on more work with a national rather than regional footprint and our Associate numbers increased to almost 200 people, of whom we will shortly have worked with more than 100.
All this took place against an uncertain national and global backdrop. The NHS and Clarity are not immune from these big trends and this has influenced our thinking in a few key ways:
- We need to be able to respond to events quickly – while the direction of travel for clients is often firmly established, tactical priorities can shift rapidly. We have been most successful when we can offer clients flexibility to respond combined with rapid access to expertise. We now have ways of being engaged by government clients much faster, meaning we can be mobilized and contracted in days to meet urgent needs.
- Technology and automation are increasingly making an impact. NHS organizations are investing in more intelligent supporting and enabling technology (they have typically been good at new clinical practice and technology adoption). We have experience in helping the NHS make the best of existing technology and manage the risks in implementation. We have observed the same piece of enabling technology being used differently in similar organizations and will be offering support to deliver the maximum value across the system.
- The increase in less well patients (often older and with multiple conditions) is the most important driver of costs in the whole system and will only increase. We have been working closely with whole regions over winter to monitor and address urgent care performance. Performance can be greatly improved in systems which establish grip and real ownership of the issue, share data quickly and have real insight into patient and system features which are causing imbalances in supply and demand, and then create real plans and resources to address issues quickly. We can support providers and systems with planning and capacity, but these plans cannot be left until performance has already declined.
For the first time, in 2018 our biggest job was not for a commissioner and we have balanced our portfolio with more work for providers, charities and private sector clients while broadening our relationships with commissioners and regulators.
We also developed partnerships with a number of great firms, including:
- Cemplicity – a world-leading approach to capturing patient outcomes and experience. Their case studies from overseas are very powerful and their approach to ensuring customer success by engaging a local partner like Clarity, who can help the customer understand what to do with the rich data generated, has the potential to be transformative for whole systems.
- BestOutcome – providing the best project management software for the NHS (PM3). NHS staff often know what needs to be done, but lack the capability and/or capacity to deliver the change – our core offer. PM3 helps our clients to automate the management of projects and programmes and gives the sponsor complete line of sight on their portfolio.
In 2019 we will develop greater capacity to deliver advanced analytic and economic support. There are a number of opportunities to help our clients get more from their existing investments in technology.
As part of making the move in 2018 from small to medium sized, we also invested in our own systems and processes. Our new CRM, collaboration tools and business administration set-up has positioned us strongly to grow further in 2019.
We will continue to develop our Associate Relationship Team. I encourage all Associates to make sure that Katherine Hall firstname.lastname@example.org knows your availability – in particular for roles in the Midlands, North of England and further afield.
We have announced three dates for our associate and client events for 2019:
These events are well attended and a great opportunity to hear some of the latest health and care thinking and network with like-minded colleagues (with the odd glass of something to help the conversation flow). We look forward to seeing you there!
2019 is going to be exciting. We are positioned well for a successful year and look forward to keeping you up to date on developments.