The healthcare industry is characterised by high entry costs, long sales cycles, and bureaucratic loops you need to jump through in order to bring a product to market.
In addition, you need to stay on top of the constantly changing regulatory landscape if you wish to collaborate with the NHS and explore using partnership opportunities as part of your Go-to-Market (GTM) strategy.
These factors make it incredibly challenging to develop a reliable GTM strategy for a healthcare business. How can you navigate through this changing environment while keeping costs under control and reaching your market efficiently?
We teamed up with Conor Burke to answer this question. As a former NHS senior leader and CEO, Conor has spent the last 25 years managing and advising on complex healthcare projects and buying services.
So in this article, we’re going to explore partnering with the NHS, within the parameters of the newly published procurement network.
Let’s dive in.
A GTM strategy is a step-by-step plan to bring a product to market. It typically defines your value proposition, target customers, sales and marketing approach. A good GTM strategy should also include your main KPIs to measure success.
In the context of healthcare, a GTM strategy should differentiate between buyers, decision makers and end users. Each will usually have a different reason to choose your product and you must take this into account when developing your plan.
For example, the value proposition for a clinician will be different compared to the patient and different again for a manager. If you offer a booking platform, you improve efficiency and productivity for the service, while the patient gains convenience and the clinician is more effective. The final decision maker, however, may be the regional NHS buyer looking to reduce average waiting times and improve the overall performance of the healthcare system.
A GTM strategy is not a guarantee for success. But it will help you anticipate and mitigate certain risks. It will also help you acquire the right tools, set up processes, hire people, and estimate your budget ahead of time.
More importantly, you will have a step-by-step framework that ensures you keep moving. Momentum is crucial at this stage as you encounter various roadblocks which are even more pronounced in the healthcare industry.
A focused roadmap will also help you minimise costs as you move in a single direction instead of spreading your attention and resources across too many avenues. Your GTM strategy should outline the best channels to reach your customers and thus control overall expenses.
As the main healthcare body in the UK, the NHS can provide direct access to other stakeholders in the ecosystem including local government, charities and social enterprises. For many businesses in the industry, this may be the fastest and most efficient way to execute a GTM strategy.
And this may be the perfect time for tech scaleups to partner with the NHS – the organisation is rapidly moving towards a digital-first model which creates new opportunities to adopt technology into everyday internal and patient-centric operations.
In fact, the NHS is in the process of implementing new communication and task management tools to finally replace the use of pagers within the system. These changes are meant to address system-wide workforce shortages as demand grows and enable doctors to focus on patients with the greatest need.
One of the most recent and interesting NHS procurement frameworks to be launched to support the direction of travel is the new Digital First Online Consultation and Video Consultation (DFOCVC) framework – the second framework to launch under the Digital Care Services framework Catalogue agreement.
The framework aims to provide a streamlined route for supplying and purchasing assured online consultation and video consultation systems. It is initially to be used by NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (the purchasers of supplier solutions) and Primary Care Organisations in England, but the longer-term intention is that the DFOCVC Framework becomes a route to procurement for wider health care settings, including secondary care, community pharmacy and others.
However new suppliers often think that securing a place on a framework will guarantee access and sales, but really it is only the first step and there are a number of further challenges that suppliers often fail to execute well:
Some of the big challenges in the NHS right now are:
In order to explore the different paths to collaborate with the NHS, let’s look at a few examples. These cover innovative partnerships within the NHS primary care ecosystem to position in a new and increasingly competitive market:
In January 2018 AccuRx started offering a service that allows GP practices to communicate with their patients by text message. By early March, about half of all the GPs in England, and some in Wales, were using the service to tell patients their test results were fine or they could pick up a prescription.
Then, as it became clear that Covid-19 was going to have a big impact, AccuRx started offering new services that would make it easier for surgeries to deal with patients remotely. NHS England, a national buyer, gave AccuRx a contract soon after the pandemic started and by April 2020 AccuRx’s video consultations had taken off, and were running at 35,000 a day and being used by 90% of GP practices across England.
In contrast, Klinik, a Finnish based company focuses on helping GPs manage the increasing demand of patients and their workload, in a less stressful way.
Klinik’s triage and patient flow management solution optimises general practice and urgent care capacity. Reducing unnecessary GP appointments and improving patient access. Its patient flow tools redirect the enquiry to the pharmacist, physio to other members of the practice team. It means they don’t have to wait for the GP and they get greater continuity of care at the right time.
In the UK more than 100 practices have signed up to use Klinik and they have approximately 1,000,000 users.
The trailblazer for video consultations in the UK was Babylon Health, which offers the GP at Hand service. Babylon Health provides an alternative to the GP surgery and has proved popular with time-poor young professionals in London, who can book a video consultation at short notice rather than wait weeks to see the doctor. They also provide automated healthchecks and monitoring through a dedicated AI driven app.
In January 2020, Babylon Health announced a 10-year partnership with the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust. This is one example of a long-term initiative with the NHS to develop a digital-first model in healthcare.
It is still unclear if these new digitally driven initiatives will lead to mass adoption but the experience of the last 12 months would suggest this is very likely. However while early results look promising, the market will ultimately be driven by patient choice.
Digital providers will have to balance product development, the demonstration of benefits delivery and navigating partnerships with the NHS in order to effectively compete in a new and growing market.
Both public and private sector participants need a clear strategy and a good understanding of the emerging digital ecosystem in UK healthcare .
This will enable them to put in place the right teams, systems, processes, and culture to maximise their impact.
Conor Burke is the leading healthcare advisor in navigating partnerships within the NHS system to define and execute on your go-to-market strategy.
As a former NHS senior leader and CEO, Conor has been advising investors, innovators, providers and suppliers to effectively position their offers with healthcare buyers. He works with a portfolio of early-stage but rapidly growing health and care businesses, many backed by angel investors, venture capital or private equity funds.
If you need help defining and executing your GTM strategy in healthcare, start a chat with Conor now.
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