HealthTech. Prepare yourself – it is a word we are going to hear a lot more of in 2018.
Globally, healthcare industries are readying themselves for significant change as new digital solutions emerge at a remarkable rate, promising to alter the way people’s health is monitored, managed and improved both in the hospital and in the home.
Of course, it’s not a new thing; for several years there have been health apps, wearable technologies and medical innovations that have empowered the professional and the individual. But now, as the market grows in size, maturity and awareness, the term HealthTech is finally poised to enter the everyday lexicon. And particularly in the UK, a country that has always been at the forefront of new tech trends, this fast-growing industry is likely to thrive over the coming 12 months.
Understanding the scope of HealthTech
When talking about HealthTech, it is important to recognise the scope of the market; to appreciate the range of different solutions that are having a profound impact on people’s day-to-day life. After all, the new technologies are not just confined to hospitals – tools used by NHS staff, surgical equipment, digital processes – are also affecting consumers and private businesses.
New HealthTech platforms are launching that make previously difficult, time-consuming or simply impossible tasks completely routine. For example, informal carers – those who provide on-going care for friends or family members free of charge – are now able to use online marketplaces that make it simple to find, book, pay for, review and even recommend healthcare services. Technology is connecting service providers and users with ever-greater ease, delivering notable cost savings and efficiency gains for both sides.
Similarly, catering to an even broader audience, there are many start-ups creating apps that help people track their dietary intake, monitor their sleeping patterns, enhance their fitness regimes or stay on top of the medication they need to take. Together, this combination of both in-hospital and out-of-hospital innovation is pushing the boundaries of how we can improve the mental and physical health of people across the UK, and indeed around the world.
The figures reflect the impressive progress the HealthTech market is making; the UK’s digital health market is expected to grow by nearly £1 billion in 2018 to reach a total of £2.9 billion, driven predominately by health apps. More generally, the global digital health market is expected to be worth a massive £43 billion by the end of 2018.
The perfect storm for market expansion
Private investors are playing a critical role in the HealthTech industry’s exponential growth. Just as crowdfunding platforms, VCs, angels and institutional lenders got behind FinTech and PropTech start-ups in recent years, now investors are offering vital support to exciting new tech businesses in the healthcare sector, giving them the capital they need to advance their solutions and expand in the market.
Alongside this private sector support, we are also seeing a conscious effort from the UK Government to throw its weight behind HealthTech. Recognising the potential for new digital solutions to deliver much-needed financial savings and efficiency increases, Westminster has created several initiatives to encourage the adoption of new tech by the NHS. For example, the NHS’ Five Year Forwarded View has a core focus on how digital tools can progress the way its services are delivered, while the Clinical Entrepreneurs Programme run by NHS England is hand-picking entrepreneurs to design and deliver new technological solutions to drag public healthcare into the 21st century.
Together, this combination of private sector innovation, mass critical awareness, consumer willingness to adopt new tech, investor support and the Government’s public health agenda has created a perfect storm for HealthTech to grow at pace in 2018 and beyond. The foundations are laid and, with some exciting tech firms already making a real impact on people’s wellbeing, the future is undoubtedly bright for the HealthTech industry.