LDC Top 50 2020
Chief Executive Officer
Spirit Health Group
Chris Barker has a knack for taking a vital service or product from the healthcare system, and doing it faster, cheaper and better.
Whether it’s sourcing pharmaceutical products on behalf of the NHS, running GP surgeries, delivering diabetes education, or monitoring very ill patients in their homes, Spirit Health Group consistently improves outcomes while freeing up doctors and nurses to focus on caring for people. The business is set to hit £250m in revenue by 2025. “I love doing things that have never been done before in ways that have never been attempted,” he says. “That is my obsession.”
Where did the idea for Spirit Health come from?
It was a combination of things. I used to work for big pharma, and later became a consultant working in the NHS. I saw lots of opportunities to make healthcare more efficient as well as deliver patient care more effectively, and decided to do something about it. I launched the business in 2009.
What are your ambitions for the business?
We have grown by an average of 35pc to 40pc over the last four years, but I know we can accelerate growth significantly. Our digital business alone has exploded in the wake of COVID-19; we delivered our whole year’s target in the first two weeks of April. The plan is to reach £250m in revenue by 2025. If that happens, then the plan is to reward all our staff.
Tell me about the biggest mistake you have made at Spirit Health?
Spirit acquired a business a few years ago. I thought it was right thing to do despite one adviser saying they had a bad feeling, don’t do this. I ignored that advice and ultimately made a bad decision. We just couldn’t integrate the two different cultures and ultimately, I invested a lot of money on a deal that went completely wrong. I hate admitting failure, but we had to walk away and that worked out better for everyone.
What’s the secret to your success?
I’m a gossip. Nearly all my best ideas have come from discussions with people. It might be a customer talking about issues and challenges, or talking to people who are brilliant at their jobs, who enjoy solving complex problems.