Across Europe, as well as the rest of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the vital importance of working together to tackle obstacles. Wherever you may be, the vision for healthcare is the same – to help people live the healthiest, best lives they can.

I’ve spent around half of my career working in the voluntary sector and the other half with industry. Over this time, I’ve watched partnerships between the two shift from transactional and often narrow in scope, to strategic and focussed on getting the best outcomes for patients as quickly as possible.

Of course, there were exceptions – I saw brilliantly impactful partnerships early on in my career. And although in my current role I’m frequently impressed by the many excellent examples of collaborative projects between industry and patient organisations I come across, there are occasions where I find myself speaking to teams who are frustrated by bureaucracy and process unnecessarily slowing down progress for patients.

One thing that has undoubtedly helped improve these partnerships is sharing best practice and celebrating successes. Our Connecting Healthcare Awards have highlighted collaborative projects that have benefitted the lives of patients across Europe. And opening in 2020, the Patient Partnership Index set out to benchmark pharma and biotech companies across the UK on the quality of their collaborations with patient groups. For 2021, the Index has opened to above country campaigns, further strengthening the impact of its insights by enabling exciting projects from around the world to contribute.

But the insights from the Index are a resource designed to be shared, helping to create and enlighten discussion between companies and patient organisations, demonstrating the incredible possibilities that working in partnership can bring. By sharing the highest standards of partnerships now, we’re prompting companies to ask: ‘What’s next?’. Let’s start the conversation now on how these partnerships can be even more equal, transparent and impactful.

It is a great privilege to be a member of the Index’ judging panel this year. With health stakeholders looking beyond the pandemic to the many issues exacerbated by COVID-19, there has never been a more pressing time for our industry to come together and support patient organisations. I’m looking forward to seeing projects that not only display the tremendous joint work taking place, but also acts to inspire and encourage other companies to step into the shoes of their patients. It is this perspective that the Index provides that makes it so vital.

To enter your company’s example of a patient partnership, register here and submit your entry form before 14 May.

Andy Powrie-Smith is executive director of Communications and Partnerships for the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).