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EFPIA Connecting Healthcare Awards – it’s all about how collaboration brings people together to help patients (Guest Blog)


You can read the original publication here.


Have you ever been a member of a jury that needs to select and reward the best collaborative projects supporting patients across Europe find the winner for an award aimed to support or provide help for patients? 

Not the easiest job honestly, but a great experience and worth to do it. 

Especially when you are asked to do it for the EFPIA Connecting Healthcare Awards. I did it and to start with that: I am a member of the happy bunch. 

EFPIA is the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations representing the innovative industry in Europe. 

EFPIA has a Patient Think Tank with European patient advocates discussing different themes with members of the pharmaceutical industry and also consult on EFPIA’s positions. 

The Patient Think Tank, which I am a member, initiated the “EFPIA Connecting Healthcare Award” five years ago to showcase and reward collaborative projects between patient organisations and industry that improve the lives of patients. The aim is to identify and promote best practice as well as provide inspiration for future collaborations. 

To be a jury member is not only about finding a winner! You can learn a lot; and really experience the inspiration and the enthusiasm of the people working in projects for patients. Ok, you need time because there is plenty of submissions and material to review and you need to pay attention to details because some of them can really make a difference. 

Starting with just 20 applications in the first year, there were 40 in the second and record 80 in the third. In 2020 although we were living through a pandemic, there were 62 projects that have come forward and applied hoping to receive the award in 2021.

I was invited to become a jury member and it was clear: this is special role and I have a huge responsibility to find the best projects to receive one of the four awards:

  • Overall winner
  • Innovation Award
  • Service Delivery Category Award
  • Prevention and Awareness Category Award

So many great projects, but only 4 awards to give 

There is a list of projects with innovative approaches and to help and support patients living with different diseases like diabetes, depression, Parkinson’s and many others. Our duty as a jury is to make an informed and as much as possible, objective choice to find the winners based on the criteria set out:  such as how innovative a project is, how patients were engaged and what the benefits for patients were. 

In my view, every project for patients would deserve an award for the effort, for coming together to realize an idea to help patients.  

There are intriguing stories and a lot of work behind every project. 

Realising a collaborative project for patients is no easy task. Rules are complex, in a company you have to work across functions, with legal and compliance teams. 

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic made things even more difficult.  But all project teams had one common goal in mind: to support people living with diseases.

There is a huge level of diversity and innovation in every project which reflects how creative people are when it comes to finding ways to help, to advocate and to create awareness. 

The opportunity for collaboration is always there, you just have to keep your eyes open and be courageous to embark on the journey.

New ways to support patients

The projects in 2021 showed in many ways how important it is to find new ways to help patients remotely, online or via a phone; to support patients in receiving the care they need and to find their way to navigate thru this pandemic. 

As a creative person myself, having developed patient projects also through my own company, I was impressed about the quality of the projects and the innovative solutions. 

It was not an easy task to select the winners. I honestly felt, every project is a winner at heart. Because I know how often people living with chronic diseases struggle with different issues. I am living with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) myself and experience the struggle. To know that there is somewhere to turn for help, can make such a difference. 

We selected the finalists and then eventually made our decision on the winners. I was very happy and honored to be part of the panel. 

We are the “happy bunch”, not only because it is such an honor to be part of this story but also because we got so much inspiration and positive energy seeing these collaborative efforts make a real difference to patients. Unfortunately, we can’t come together in person to have a ceremony to give the award to the winners, but we are here to celebrate on social media and showcase the winning projects to you. 

I am proud of all the projects that have applied for this Award and I’d like to congratulate the winners on their courage to seek collaboration to create something valuable for patients. 

To find out more about the award and the winners, please go to: 

https://www.efpia.eu/news-events/the-efpia-view/statements-press-releases/announcing-the-winners-of-the-2021-efpia-connecting-healthcare-awards/  

Or follow the #ConnectingHealthcare in Social Media! 

Birgit Bauer

Birgit Bauer is German and lives with Multiple Sclerosis for more than 16 years now. In her “real” life she works...
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