Healthtechs need to fail fast, with NHS top priorities at the helm

Jon Payne, director of sales engineering and education, InterSystems, discusses what is required for healthtechs to make their mark in the NHS this year in what remains a highly competitive space.

In 2023, the NHS celebrated its 75th birthday, and with it, outlined its key priorities and focus areas for the years ahead, which underscores a renewed emphasis on vital areas like urgent and emergency care, primary care, and resource optimisation. As the healthtech sector strives to align with these priorities and navigate an ongoing resource crisis, healthtechs need to ask themselves whether their solutions directly address a need that the NHS is currently spending money on, as if they are unable to help the NHS recover core services by improving ambulance response times, cutting A&E wait times, or reducing the backlogs of people on waiting lists, for example, then their solutions will lack appeal.

In what remains a highly competitive space, a strategic approach, which keeps addressing top NHS priorities at its core, becomes imperative for achieving widespread adoption of healthtech solutions. It is, therefore, fundamental that healthtechs fail fast with innovative technology that will allow them to make their mark in the NHS this year.

A strategic approach to innovation

Adopting a fail fast approach from the moment they come up with a new concept and thoroughly testing their idea from the beginning will help healthtechs determine whether their solution answers a need within the NHS and will consequently have wider appeal.

As part of this, healthtechs must be realistic about the benefits their solutions offer. After all, if they can’t address key NHS challenges, or their solutions aren’t data compliant, interoperable, value adding, or truly easy-to-use, for instance, healthtechs must be bold and decisive enough to learn their lessons and move on quickly. This approach of “failing fast, innovating faster” will enable healthtechs to rapidly begin creating new innovative solutions which are better able to address the sector’s core challenges. In a rapidly evolving and increasingly fast-moving market sector, this is the only way healthtechs can ensure they remain relevant and competitive.

A fail fast approach will also help healthtechs to better manage costs, particularly in light of the rising costs associated with introducing new technology to the healthcare market owing to medical device regulations (MDR). Understanding where their platform or solution fits within MDR, and what classification it falls into, are issues healthtechs need to be aware of from the very beginning not only due to the varying costs, but also the differing timescales associated with qualifying their solution under the regulation.

In such scenarios, failure to adopt a fail fast approach, could mean healthtechs become engaged in processes that might take several years and be extremely costly, only to find there is no demand for the device. Failing fast by coming up with a proposition and testing whether it is effective, delivers results, and is something the healthcare market really wants to buy, and if it isn’t, pivoting their technology, is critical to the success of healthtechs.

Making technology pivots simpler

Being able to make those technology pivots requires healthtechs to have access to a robust data platform that allows them to rapidly build, test, and scale their solutions. The use of a unified data platform will make technology pivots simpler, faster, and cheaper – all of which are essential to allow healthtechs to adopt a true fail fast approach.

The right data platform will also bring all of their data together and help healthtechs to address data integrity, compliance, and interoperability issues to ensure their solutions can talk to the wide range of other solutions in use within the NHS. Having a solid foundation and architecture behind them to handle changing needs will not only empower healthtechs to fail fast and innovate faster, but it will also enable them to meet evolving regulatory and market requirements and demands.

Additionally, as the NHS is a decentralised, heterogeneous group of independent organisations, healthtechs must also be aware of the fact that it isn’t a case of just selling their solutions to the NHS once and achieving adoption in NHS Trusts nationally. Instead, widespread adoption requires them to sell their solutions to individual trusts and organisations. This is where a robust data platform and working with partners who have a footprint and existing relationships in the NHS, as well as distribution mechanisms, can be an effective way for healthtechs to leverage their solution into the healthcare market.

Fail fast, innovate faster

As the NHS and wider healthcare sector continues to contend with immense pressures, staff shortages, and changing care requirements, having the right tools to be able to make fast changes to solutions will help healthtechs to keep pace with the continually evolving needs of the NHS.

By adopting the mantra of “fail fast, innovate faster”, healthtechs can cultivate solutions that are both responsive and forward-looking, thereby positioning themselves as trailblazers within the competitive healthcare landscape. And by capitalising on robust data platforms that foster integration and interoperability, healthtechs can carve out a transformative role in shaping the future of healthcare delivery within the NHS.

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This post originally appeared on TechToday.

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