Healthcare technology is moving at the speed of light with a foot-to-the floor attitude to innovation and product development.
But the scorching pace generated by medical ingenuity and gargantuan artificial intelligence capabilities could be breaking the comprehension limits of the most important element of the healthcare equation – the patient.
And leaving them behind places new technology at risk of failing to meet the basic requirement of serving the public.
The need for speed is evident with health systems around the world creaking under the twin pressures of a financial squeeze and a growing, ageing population. But, in an arena where patient acceptance and take-up is key, many firms could be losing potential revenue because their end users simply cannot grasp what is on offer.
A recent survey conducted by the influential business leader community, Hot Topics, demonstrated that the public now has no trust issues with healthcare solving its mounting ills. The study – of its Health Tech 100 leaders list – found that 70% did not view public distrust of apps, devices and computer-driven services as an issue.
“But the challenge is to switch them on to the benefits of new products. “Too many companies are concentrating on their product. Rightly, they are proud of the innovation and potential patient outcomes but they need to consider bringing the public with them and creating a swell of demand.
“If they don’t, they risk their innovation being on a slow track to acceptance and that means a poor return on investment. A rival device may be able to steal the ground because they have a clear value proposition that is backed up by independent advocacy.
“Healthcare tech needs to embed a mission to explain in its DNA.” The survey also revealed that 50% of the Health Tech 100 agreed with Ali Parsa, the CEO of Babylon Health, that the next decade “is going to do for healthcare what Google did with information. Make it universally available, affordable, and put in the hands of every human being on earth.”
It will be decade of opportunity with connected healthcare – from wellness and diagnostics to cardiac interventions and monitors – expected to hit a value of £37 billion by 2020, according to analysis from PwC. Annual business growth rates will hit 30%, it also predicted.
The scramble for that business is intensifying. IMS Health reported more than 165,000 mobile apps on the market in 2015 – more than double 2013 levels.
“It is a crowded space so all new products need cut through and support,” added Mr Cross. “That comes from having a clear connection with the people who need your product. They are a very powerful tool as they can advocate for you to their clinicians. If they do not understand what you have then you are unlikely to win them over and create traction that could be difference between getting the desired patient outcomes and satisfying investors.
Five key elements to making the most of your innovation
1. Always have the patient in mind in terms of their outcomes and their understanding of what you offer
2. Communicate to the public as well as your investors and the healthcare tech community
3. Realise that failing to engage could result in sales limbo and loss of potential revenue
4. Get independent advocates on board early so they can help make the case to industry and the public
5. Don’t waste hard work and ingenuity by focusing only on the product. Look up and take a world view