The CONNECT Collaborator Series is an interview series where we host conversations with healthcare professionals and partners with the goal of encouraging deeper collaboration in the healthcare industry.

Watch the full CONNECT Collaborator Series video featuring our Co-Founder, Lorie Spence and Founder and CEO of Health Collaboration Partners, David Lee here:


Lorie Spence: Welcome to the CONNECT Collaborator Interview Series, where we host 10 minute conversations with healthcare professionals and partners with the goal of encouraging deeper collaboration in the healthcare industry. Today’s guest is David Lee. David is the Founder and Chief Collaboration Officer at Health Collaboration Partners. This organization helps healthcare non-profits, startups and biotechs, increase funding support, optimize multi-sector collaborations and effectively communicate scientific impact. Over the last 30 years, David has secured funding for created and led numerous impactful large scale public private partnerships across a number of disease areas, and has raised over $50 million for corporate and government sources for more than 100 scientific multi-stakeholder projects. David, welcome, and thanks for being here.

David Lee: Hey, it’s great to be here and great to connect with you Lorie, thank you.

Lorie Spence: Excellent. I wanted to start by first acknowledging our connection. We worked together previously on a global initiative to improve patient outcomes in healthcare. So my first question is, why do you believe collaboratives are important?

David Lee: For me, I’ve learned—and I think it’s a strand of my DNA throughout my professional career—the idea that you can do more in partnership than you can do alone. I think, especially in this healthcare environment, we really have to figure out how to maximize both our financial constraints, as well as our impact. Having things that everyone can do together that align around a common agenda, and really put more resource, both in terms of financial and people, into an effort, is the way forward. It’s nice to see, for instance, people that would be competitors outside of the room, inside of the room aligning and saying, “Hey, we’ve got a bigger vision”. The competition isn’t present in this case, i.e. large pharmaceutical companies that have products in this space. The bigger problem is awareness, education, and policies that need to be changed that can help patients get the right care that they need and the right diagnosis they need.

Lorie Spence: In your current role as Founder and Chief Collaboration Officer of Health Collaboration Partners, what are the key services you offer to healthcare clients? And how did they contribute to their success?

David Lee: A lot of the work that I do is fundraising related. I have had roles where I was the senior staff or Executive Director of a non-profit group, where I was raising funds from the biopharma sector, philanthropy and other groups. I’ve also sat inside a pharmaceutical company and really got to see what a business case value proposition needs to look like. 

I would say probably 75% of the work that I do is fundraising related, either serving as a fractional fundraiser for a healthcare non-profit, helping on the private sector side with go to market strategies, or connecting with key opinion leaders in areas that I have expertise. I’ve been in the osteoporosis space for about 12 years. I’ve worked in the field, as well as with all the players, both industry KOLs and various non-profit groups. Like I said, that’s probably 75% of what I do on behalf of my clients. I also have worked to set up or optimize multi-sector collaborative partnerships. One that I’m doing right now is on cancer and caregiving that we’ll be launching in a couple of weeks via design workshop. I’ve also done a little bit of public speaking, coaching, and working with biotechs, scientists and engineers to take all of their very deep knowledge, insights and technical expertise and help them communicate that more clearly. Those are the three buckets of the kinds of things that I do for my clients.

Lorie Spence: Could expand a little bit on your second example that you gave around the workshop and explain how your approach to this optimizes the benefits it brings to the healthcare stakeholders as you go into these multi-sector collaborations?

David Lee: Sure. In that case, we are creating a new collaborative that’s been based on a lot of work that’s happened previously. For example, large workshops that aligned on a common set of goals, but didn’t have the implementation arm to be able to take that forward. What I’ve been able to do is work with my client, the National Alliance for Caregiving, and create that model of how we can have various sectors participate. We then aligned around three focus areas: Research, policy change, and health system practice change. Together, we figured out wh that next lever is to pull. I’ve learned that you need both, as we call it, the top-down and bottom-up approaches. You need top-down for policies that really drive the reimbursement that the healthcare professionals need, but then also the support that the patients caregivers need, i.e. national coalition’s. And on the bottom-up side you need that peer-to-peer education, i.e. digital tools that will help people work more efficiently and find and track patients to make sure that they’re getting the care that they need.

Lorie Spence: Could you provide some insights or what you perceive to be some of the challenges and opportunities of collaborating across public, private and non-profit healthcare sectors and how you might address them?

David Lee: I would say a big thing I’ve learned from multiple collaboratives—and I’ve been everywhere from on the ground floor as they’ve been created, as well as have helped to optimize some—is you have to have a real vision of what you want to do and why this unique group of folks across the sector’s are needed together. I’ve seen it where it germinates out of one specific organization, and it’s an extension of that organization. In that care, it doesn’t necessarily have the ability to be inclusive and to hear the voices of everyone around the room. I think the key is to strategically plan on the front end and say, “Hey, we could do 50 things, but let’s focus on three that are going to give us the the biggest impact.” 

For example, when I ran a group called the National Health Alliance in the US, we aligned around working on a care coordination program called a Fracture Liaison Service. We were launching an awareness campaign for bone health and doing scientific work around bone marker and bone turnover markers. There were a lot of other ideas but we felt that we really needed to focus on three big stakes, as opposed to trying to do too much. 

The other thing I’ve learned is that it’s nice to get the financial support from the members—both the non-profit and the industry members—but the people power is what really drives these collaborations. If you have industry partners, national non-profits, leading key opinion leaders, and academic and hospital institutions, you can really make a big impact. Whereas sometimes when you’re working for a national organization, if you have a fairly small staff, there’s only so much you can do at a state or local level. Certainly that helps as you’re driving policy change and connecting with legislators to try to get legislation, or working with—in the case of the US—folks that help CMS to get some policy change. But to bring a group of 60 members that represents hundreds of 1000s of people as opposed to one organization that has 5000 members, it really is that volume of voices that helps drive policy change and engagement.

Lorie Spence: My final question for you, David, is where do you see the future of healthcare? And what does it look like to you? 

David Lee: I think we’re moving that way. I think the good part of COVID is that we did learn how to do many of the things that would typically be done in an office situation, virtually. And I know that at least in America, a lot of that work has continued. The digital tools and the engagement, both with healthcare professionals and patients that I think wasn’t quite so strong digitally is there, and I think it’s here to stay. I think the good news is that I feel like we are in a more patient-centric kind of place and we’re going to keep moving in that direction. Our ability to give patients the care that they need, doesn’t necessarily lead to having to go to the office to be able to do that, which is more convenient for the patients. The future innovation that we’re seeing in healthcare is really enabling folks to not only have more time at home, but manage their disease in a more patient-friendly way then some of the older therapies. There’s a lot more inpatient-outpatient, which of course, also puts more challenges on family members, caregivers, and care partners that are around that patient helping to manage their their disease progression.

Lorie Spence: Thank you, David. Where can people find you?

David Lee: The easiest way to find me is at, which is my website. I am also on LinkedIn. I would say that’s the other platform that I’m the most active on. I would love to set up any time with folks to talk about some of their challenges and I really appreciate the opportunity to connect today and to be a guest on this new piece that you’re driving forward. Thank you.

Lorie Spence: Thank you, David, and we look forward to following you on your journey.


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