Justin Cole on an Olympic winning strategy and Sam Buckby on the culture of transformation at Urgo

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Healing people: Managing Director of Urgo Medical, Justin Cole, on going for gold with an Olympic winning strategy 


What is Urgo Medical and what makes it unique?

Urgo Medical is a global wound healing company, taking R&D to a new level in this vital area. We are committed to transforming the lives of patients with chronic wounds and believe in always putting people first. We have a strong commitment to the development of our employees and believe that an engaged workforce, that truly understands the unmet needs of the NHS, is our best competitive advantage. 


What does Urgo focus on?

Our patients are the priority and, therefore, we always try to strike the right balance between setting ambitious goals and aligning our products and services to the accountability of the NHS. Everything we do is connected to quality; improving patient experience, supporting patient safety and driving clinical effectiveness. We achieve this by ensuring our joint working initiatives and NHS engagements are transparent and our employees across the whole organisation are motivated by improving outcomes in wound care.


Did you have a set of established targets at the beginning of the year?

Accelerating our growth plan to ensure patients have access to our new products, our Sales Force Expansion plan is implemented, we achieve enhanced health and wellbeing in the workplace, organisational performance is increased and our market access capabilities are strengthened, as part of our commercial excellence programme – quite a long list!


What significant milestones has Urgo achieved in 2016?

We expanded our sales force by 25%, launched two outstanding products and reached fourth in the UK market, growing faster than any of our industry partners, and winning more tenders than ever. This has involved significant people development, while rapidly delivering our ‘Sales Force Effectiveness’ strategy. Our employees like to do exciting things, so we joined forces with an Olympic winning team to help accelerate organisational performance! Meanwhile, an innovative work-based learning programme saw our Market Access Teams partner NHS stakeholders to further understand the
value created through partnerships.


Have there been any unexpected victories?

Urgo has created a culture in 2016 that has earned a reputation as a very attractive workplace in industry. Our best companies survey demonstrates consistently higher engagement ratings this year, which we are exceptionally proud of, especially in a time of expansion and growth.


What single moment sums up Urgo’s year?

Urgo adopted an Olympic winning strategy – ‘Going for Gold’. This accelerated into a ‘Business as Usual’ conversation, as we linked up with a great external performance consultancy, who have foundations in winning Olympic Gold medals. We used this to enhance our organisational performance and, consequently, everything we did stemmed from ‘winning Gold’. Across our business – through our core functions of Sales Force Effectiveness, Marketing, Sales and Clinical Services, we asked each other one simple question: “Will it make the boat go faster? If we do this will we win Gold?”.


What have been the biggest challenges over the last 12 months?

The growth has presented challenges in itself. We have continued to focus on what’s important and performance. Over the past 12 months we have redefined sales force excellence, introduced new coverage models, refined the key account process and introduced motivating incentive schemes. We must recruit talent in order to grow and ensure we have the right programmes and benefits, so that great people can thrive.


What motivates your employees?

We have created a work culture that engages and enhances. At Urgo people are part of a unique company and are values driven. Our employees are motivated to raise the voice of wound care and enhance the quality of life for patients, who often are not heard. We have a strong CSR strategy that promotes a good feel throughout the business. We strive to be socially, financially and environmentally responsible with our UK head office based in the Midlands.


Has Brexit turbulence affected Urgo?

We are a French–owned company and have received much support from our global stakeholders. After the initial noise around Brexit, it is now time for wound care companies to realign their thinking and devise a strategy to ensure a bright future. It’s full steam ahead. It is not easy to predict how changes will be made, but it is not too early for companies to considering different options. Wound care companies can plan for the correct business continuity strategies, once the UK has separated from the EU.


What does the future hold?

It’s very bright for Urgo UK. We have an outstanding portfolio of best-in-class products and our innovation will only expand in the next few years. We are breaking through barriers into a really exciting wound care market space. The burden of chronic wounds cost the NHS £5.3 billion in the UK iduring 2013/14 and Urgo has the capabilities to contribute significantly to direct NHS need, while improving the quality of outcomes for patients.





Urgo Medical has embarked on a culture of transformation that truly supports engagement between healthcare professionals and industry.


Sam Buckby, Sales Force Effectiveness Manager for Urgo UK, explains:



The importance of good quality Market Access learning platforms – which develop an understanding of NHS language – remain a challenge in both the medtech and pharmaceutical industries. The pharmaceutical industry has been seen to lead the use of this ‘new language’ in defining joint working. In 2016 Urgo Medical – in partnership with Real Healthcare Solutions – raised the bar in wound care and, in the spirit of going for gold, delivered a development programme aimed at increasing the quality of NHS engagements to improve patient outcomes.



UrgoExpert is a quality work–based learning programme promoting skill development, measured through credible assessment and based on aligning services to the accountability of the NHS. Our Market Access Programme presented an opportunity in 2016 for Urgo’s Healthcare Partnership team to engage with new wound care stakeholders in order to understand the positioning and perception of Urgo’s partnership offering. This supported patient safety, ensured an improved patient experience and drove clinical effectiveness within wound care.



Various protocols exist that support the engagement between health professionals and the wound care industry. What is of real importance, however, is how Urgo leverages interactions with the NHS to ensure we are supporting improved patient outcomes and not just partnering for the sake of it. The NHS continues to face challenges to deliver high quality care under economic pressure and it is inevitable that these issues will need to be overcome through innovative partnership, in an environment where sharing skillsets, multi–disciplinary working and measuring results become ‘Business as Usual’.



Phil Wilkinson, National Sales Manager: “Currently the wound care industry engages with health professionals through education, sponsorship, research and product evaluation, with the NHS supporting the wound care industry by developing pathways for product assessment and education. As part of our SFE strategy we realise this has to change. Through engaging with external partners, such as Richard Shorney, author of ‘Working with Industry for Improved Patient Outcomes’, Urgo are totally confident that we can take this to a new level. We must understand where Urgo can best pool skills and experience with the NHS for the joint development and implementation of transparent, patient-centred projects, where goals are jointly written. Successful delivery depends on the commitment of Urgo and the NHS. By inviting non-clinical NHS stakeholders to work with us, we are already working towards a fundamental shift in Partnership working”.



Our results measurement allowed for both elements of external support and resource measure. The UrgoExpert programme was not education for education’s sake. I believe that if training is at the right level and blended through the organisation, it can open the eyes of the teams involved and establish unseen opportunity ahead. The methods we used throughout our market access programme in 2016 were based on those of academic rigour and reflected the principles of work-based learning platforms within the NHS. In addition to the reaction, knowledge transfer and best practice within Market Access action learning sets, we now have in-field results that determine the measurable impact of the performance of our Market Access team. The development of the UrgoExpert Market Access programme has not only supported internal colleagues to have the confidence and competence to engage with senior NHS stakeholders, but moreover it aligns the company solutions to overall NHS accountability.

Go to urgo.co.uk.