My company, Nine Health CIC, is a national and international not-for-profit social enterprise which helps health services improve delivery using innovative technology.
Nine Health was created from within the NHS, and is committed to make things better for patients and people working in health and social care, not just the UK but in Europe and further afield.
We were invited to visit China to showcase our expertise in June 2014 when Healthcare UK launched its digital health demonstrator in Zhejiang. The demonstrator was a kind of mobile exhibition stand which helped British companies meet and interact with digital health providers in China.
Going to China was a big investment for us, both in terms of time and financially – but the very first company that visited us on the stand was Lantone, a major provider of digital health solutions.
Lantone immediately expressed a real interest in collaborating on a project they were already working on. They needed a ‘Big Data’ expert with a specialism in healthcare – so that was a great fit.
With the help of Healthcare UK and UKTI, we were able to follow up on the initial contacts we’d made with Lantone, and continue negotiations when we arrived back in the UK.
Having Healthcare UK around as support was vital. They gave us excellent advice on how best to do business in China, as well as help understanding cultural and social differences which we needed to be aware of when it comes to the delicate business of negotiating and communicating.
We went back again in August to further explore our ideas on collaboration, and properly sealed the deal when representatives from Lantone came to England in October to see our set-up in Leeds, London and Swansea.
I think that was when we realised that things were really moving. Having the managers from Lantone in the UK seeing our operation was vital – I think it put their minds at rest about the scale and professionalism of the work we do at Nine Health.
The whole thing has culminated in the launch of a pilot project to bring ‘intelligent information systems’ to the Zheijiang Province GPs. Our systems are designed to help GPs co-ordinate all of their information and data and share it among stakeholders.
It hasn’t been an easy process. Systems in China, obviously, are quite different from those in the UK and across Europe – but the pilot project has proved a success so far.
The people we worked with in China are very good communicators, we have found.
News of the good work we have done in Zheijiang has already spread – and we now have three or four fresh leads which we hope will bring more collaborations in China.
We now have a representative in China and a base in Hangzhou, working to look after our customers there, meeting potential new clients, and overseeing the year-long pilot project.
It’s so exciting to be able to work in these remarkably innovative emerging sectors, and I expect to be back and forth to China regularly as we gear up for the moment the system is ready to be marketed.
It’s challenging, groundbreaking, stimulating work, and I’m very grateful for the support I’ve received from Healthcare UK.
There’s no doubt their expertise and knowledge has smoothed the way for what we know will be a productive and fruitful collaboration with our new Chinese partners.