Dialogue – the way to get to the right strategic partnership model

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In our experience, dialogue is an essential first step before starting down the tender pathway. Dialogue with potential vendors and with your peers helps you clarify your goals and your essential requirements to ensure you get to the right solution."

Egil Nilsen

Head of Solutions Center of Excellence and Consulting Principal, Western Europe

As healthcare providers in Europe look to decrease spending, they often turn to tenders and procurement initiatives to get the most for their money when it comes to challenging projects. From open and restricted tenders to a competitive dialogue process or design competition, each approach has its advantages and disadvantages.


But in our experience, before you even start down the tender pathway, dialogue is an essential first step to take. Dialogue with potential vendors and with your peers helps you clarify your goals and your essential requirements to ensure you get to the right solution.


Along the way, we often uncover new insights, new directions and ideas for doing things better. For us, dialogue is the start of strategic partnerships between vendors and care providers that lead to more effective healthcare strategies. 

The foundation of our partnership strategy includes:

  • Examine what your essential goals are and how you can benefit from the resources and expertise of a partner
  • A dialogue with your peers to learn what worked and did not work for them. What kind of dialogue did they have with vendors and what tender model did they use?
  • A dialogue between care provider and vendor to uncover the win-win for both parties


Using dialogue as a starting point has a number of benefits. It provides a forum for identifying improvement opportunities and sharpening focus. In practice, however, we encounter many care providers who hesitate to engage in dialogue because of the obstacles they see – establishing trust, being able to speak openly and reducing bargaining power are just a few.


Understanding this hesitancy, we would like to encourage care providers to invest some time in determining what the best solution for your problem is. Examine your situation and goals closely. Challenge yourself to think how your business could benefit from the expertise and knowledge of a potential partner. Think of e-health or workflow advice.


For example, Tays Heart Hospital in Finland teamed up with Philips when it was looking to offer its patients a seamless and personalized care pathway.


“By partnering with Philips, we will be able to engage in a close and deep collaboration related to the most crucial areas of the Tays Heart Hospital,” said Kari Niemelä, Chief Executive Officer and Medical Director at Tays Heart Hospital. “By concentrating on a single equipment and service supplier, this partnership will allow us to get the best possible benefits from the related medical technologies and meet our operational and strategic objectives.”


Other ways for care providers to investigate options for a longer term strategic partnership with industry is to start up conversations with regional peers on their experiences with similar partnerships. These discussions can provide valuable insights into the potential benefits and pitfalls that can be expected.


Finally, partnerships obviously need to be rewarding for all parties involved. Applying time and patience are essential as both parties work towards a relationship that best matches their mission and goals. Dialogue is the cornerstone of success in strategic partnerships. By focusing on the outcome that both parties want to achieve, strategic partnerships can unlock new potential for care providers.

About the author

Egil Nilson

Egil V. Nilsen

Head of Solutions Center of Excellence and Healthcare Transformation Services
Consulting Principal,

Western Europe 

Egil brings strategy and operations consulting expertise spanning program evaluation and development, care flow optimization, technology implementation, supply chain, and physician group transformation. He works with governments, municipalities, hospitals, and other private and public customers to improve healthcare delivery. Egil spent six years as a hospital executive overseeing day-to-day operations and performing long-term planning for the areas of radiology, neuroscience, and more. He is a published author and has been a guest speaker on topics as diverse as patient safety in radiology and nuclear medicine, adverse drug effect monitoring, and improving operations in the operating room. Egil received a Master of Science degree in industrial engineering and a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering.

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