Contributed: How to Support Digital Health Startups When the Stakes are High

Contributed: How to Support Digital Health Startups When the Stakes are High

The pandemic has forced major investment in digital health to help expand and create solutions that support patients and healthcare professionals through one of the most challenging times in history says Prof Sam Shah, Founder Faculty of Future Health, CoMD with Ulster University, visiting faculty UCL Global Business School for Health and HIMSS22 Europe speaker, Prof Sam Shah. Stronger commitment from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the NHS to create sustainable programmes that will drive up the evidence base around what startups can deliver and support the introduction of new companies into health care is what’s needed.

The problem is VC’s have an incredibly fast funding cycle, which compresses time and puts immense pressure on entrepreneurs to build a sustainable business quickly, not always taking into account that most healthcare startups will not turn a profit early on in their lifespan. It’s well known that launching or even scaling a product in the NHS isn’t a fast or easy process – often taking three to five years – what’s more, the revenue sacrifices startups have to make to gain traction in the NHS is a very real issue, whether that’s reducing pricing, tailoring solutions or trialling products. Many of the best and brightest new startups have exceptionally talented individuals but that doesn’t mean that they immediately understand the cultural and political idiosyncrasies across the health and social care system, and, more specifically the complexity of NHS funding. Understanding the funding models and the way the NHS wants and needs to buy is fundamental for new businesses. Digital health startups have a huge opportunity to overhaul the way healthcare is delivered but if this trend is going to continue then they need to receive support throughout their journey to ensure they survive in the sector.

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