The UK healthtech market is alive and buzzing, with exciting new tools emerging to offer digital solutions for a whole range of needs, from digital therapeutics to wearables and online patient management tools. Whilst this ultimately marks a positive move in terms of providing innovative healthcare solutions, it’s a competitive market out there for healthtech founders seeking to launch their new product. Any healthtech entrepreneur knows that it’s not as simple as creating a brilliant new tech solution and then immediately rolling it out across the NHS.

If your healthtech tool is to be introduced to the NHS, it is essential that you build confidence and trust within different regions as well as a strong reputation for your product. This is crucial if you are going to compete and win contracts against the larger conglomerates already working in the NHS. As well as this, healthtech founders must consider how to gain the trust and support of clinicians, who are often wary about adopting new tech because they’ve had so many solutions parachuted in that have failed.

As a healthtech founder, there are a number of things to consider if you are to win the support and trust necessary for you to expand your offerings. From my experience at Cinapsis, here are some of the key things that I would encourage future founders to prioritise.

Offer a meaningful solution 

Whilst all healthtech products are well-intentioned, some fail to make it in the NHS because they simply aren’t catered to providing the solutions that clinicians and management really need. Products need to be designed around the specific needs of the end users, with input and feedback integrated throughout the whole design process.

Bearing in mind the specific pain points and needs of NHS clinicians and patients is essential if your product is going to be an aid, rather than a burden. Issues such as ease of communication between different clinicians, the compatibility of tech with existing NHS systems as well as the provision of time-effective and easy-to-use digital solutions for healthcare staff remain some of the most well-documented concerns amongst stakeholders. It is essential for founders to speak to clinicians to understand the pain points and to make sure that these are reflected in each stage of the design. By targeting key areas of need, healthtech organisations can ensure that their solution is meeting a real demand.

Support your existing customers

There is no point parachuting in a new solution without providing proper training or ongoing support for the clinicians who are using it. To create a viable, long-lasting healthtech solution, it is essential to create both a comprehensive training process and the provision of ongoing support to ensure clinicians are able to easily pick up and use your product from the get-go. This level of support is key to ensuring that your product is not only implemented effectively, but continues to deliver improvements long after adoption.

Build a strong client base

It’s important to build a network of strong, ongoing clinical partnerships in order to gain comprehensive feedback on your product. This will ensure that it is working as effectively as possible for users. Establishing strong links with the clinical users of your tool will enable you to create a dynamic product that takes client feedback into consideration, and will allow you to make any changes necessary to guarantee a positive user experience.

Ensure medical credibility

If your tool is going to be rolled out effectively, you need to guarantee that you have medical credibility in line with the NHS’ baseline requirements, with clear measurements of benefits, outcome, and any limitations. For example, tools must be approved by the Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC) in order to be procured by NHS Trusts, with this certification denoting that a digital health tool meets the NHS’ standards. Other frameworks that set the baseline for digital health products include NICE’s Evidence Standard Framework (ESF). Without meeting these widely accepted benchmarks for clinical safety and data protection it is impossible to stand a chance of competing against the larger players in the game.

Ultimately, healthtech tools cannot be built in isolation if they are to integrate successfully into the NHS. Products must be designed with clinicians in mind, if they are going to stand a chance of successfully entering the market. By building a product that aims to make a real difference for the needs of healthcare professionals, healthtech entrepreneurs can ensure the greater uptake of their product and its effective rollout within the NHS.

By Dr Owain Rhys Hughes founder and CEO of healthtech start-up Cinapsis

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