Health technology developers, can we save the NHS?

''While it is tough, there really is no better time to be in this market, as the government, senior NHS management and clinicians all agree that technological change to our health system is required.''

The expansion of the UK health technology market is certainly not in doubt, with an annual growth rate of 31% and forecasted value of £2bn by 2020. (Price Waterhouse Cooper report 2014)

One can certainly see why there has been a wealth of superb digital health products developed and aimed for NHS adoption on a massive scale.

In a 2015 report called the Patient of the Future: 2020, the key message was clear; technological advances in the health sector were poised to drive the most fundamental progression within our health service.

Andrew Ward, wrote in the Financial Times; “Companies operating at the intersection of technology and medical science, are attracting increasing attention and finance, as the digital revolution that has reshaped sectors, such as retail and banking begins to transform healthcare.”

So you would be forgiven for thinking that by now, we were driving efficiencies within our ailing NHS and providing the public purse with some well needed relief and in turn, delivering true economic benefit to the health system and those organisations providing this advanced technology.

While there are examples of healthcare being increasingly driven by technology such as patient information software, elsewhere, the major advances in technology for specific clinical areas such as Cardiology and Paediatrics are becoming increasingly sophisticated, yet at the same time increasingly costly.

So is it as simple as the experts predict?

How much of the patient journey is faster, quality driven and accurate as a result of embracing these newly available technologies?

A couple of organisational insights worth considering;

The Orion Health Group, have successfully been delivering NHS contracts for the last ten years.

Even though the management team have been making significant cuts to the unprofitable population health and hospital businesses over the last year, their shares hit a record low earlier this month, reportedly losing approximately 90% of the original value since listing on the stock market in 2014.

Babylon Health, who raised $60m this time last year, have been making significant impact with their General Practice product. However, the GP at Hand service, was recently removed from the NHS app library. The company is also being called out in the press with headlines such as “CCG could face £10.6m additional costs to continue funding GP at Hand”

Entrepreneurs entering into this market space should therefore consider the following;

How cost effective is your product or service than the status quo?

  • The NHS requires new technology that not only deliver to large patient numbers, but also using economically beneficial models.

  • With all of the publicly available information this can be easy to benchmark, and provide a competitive edge for your product.

Do you need investment?

Any digital health development will consume several million pounds of investment, unfortunately obtaining a small amount of funding will not get you there.

I am regularly asked about funding and my advice is; go for the required amount - raising £500,000 requires exactly the same time and effort as £1m.

Optimism in the sector is growing. Key investors such as Zinc, IV-UK and Active Capital can be invaluable as advisors.

Reach out to them with your pitch, as the numbers of companies funded and the value of investments are both on the increase.

Lastly, as s a commercial strategist, I believe, it’s is always in your best interest to make sales from a strong customer pipeline, thereby delivering capital from actual revenue.

Developers with a clear focus on patient need and streamlining costs, ultimately will deliver the changes our systems require, yet more importantly improve patients’ quality of life.

So can we save our health service through technology and innovation?

I believe so, with a resounding YES!

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