Sinead Quinn

Sinead Quinn
Healthcare Programme Manager, Intellect 

The UK healthcare IT marketplace has changed significantly in the past few years due to many factors, not least the move from fragmented purchasing to central procurement.

The healthcare IT industry has come to terms with the fact that much of the business within the traditional NHS market is now tied up until 2010 under the NHS Connecting for Health programme.

Ambitious firms are tackling this change in the market place head on, and are seeking to understand how they can make strategic business decisions to address this new market. Although there are opportunities available, they are more limited than before and many business are opting to look abroad.

Frost and Sullivan were commissioned by Intellect to conduct research and look in to international healthcare IT markets. Phase 1 of the international market-research project is complete, with 35 markets screened and the top-ten markets for UK healthcare IT suppliers identified.

Our organisation has started to explore some of the top ten countries uncovered in the Frost and Sullivan report. We have honed in on the USA, Canada and more recently, New Zealand and Australia. Despite the geographical distance, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA, are good markets to tap into, as they are countries where language, culture and models for providing healthcare are similar to ours.

Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand are working to deliver automated, community based healthcare services to patients with long term conditions creating many opportunities for UK SMEs. On the flipside, opportunities also exist where healthcare businesses based in the two countries are looking to expand into Europe and need a UK based player to help make this happen.

Research shows that the total market for healthcare IT in Australia is approximately AU$1.8 billion and is expected to grow with 11-13 percent annually for the next 5 years. There are currently several national e-health initiatives ongoing.

Australia has good historical links with the UK and has a similar business culture as the UK which is both open and straightforward. It has an annual spend on healthcare of AU$72 billion — relatively high in comparisons to other countries.

New Zealand, like Australia, has good links with the UK. It is a pioneering and vibrant nation. In health, it established the world’s first nationwide, comprehensive on-line National Health Index — a system containing a comprehensive database of health encounters. Over the past 10 years it has expanded to create a nationwide EHR.

New Zealand was reported by the Commonwealth Fund in 2004 to have the highest rates of accessibility to primary Care in the world. It has a nationwide primary health HL7 results network — with 98% of all Radiology, Laboratory results being transmitted on it. 95% of all primary care clinicians use EPR/PMS systems, and they have a dedicated Health Intranet.

"Some areas such as PACS, where implementation is not yet saturated, could present an opportunity"

— Sinead Quinn, Healthcare Programme Manager, Intellect


Canada also has traditional ties with the UK. British companies are highly regarded there. There is no overt evidence of ‘protectionism’, meaning UK SMEs will not find it difficult to enter the Canadian market.

The Canadian Medicare system shares some common elements with the UK’s NHS. It is politically stable, has a safe business climate, and Canada’s economy has shown consistent growth. Today, the UK stands as the third largest trading partner to Canada. There are over 500 British companies in the country.

Intellect believes some areas such as PACS, where implementation is not yet saturated, could present an opportunity for new entrants. We also believe that the role Canada can have as a potential launch pad to the USA should not be underestimated.


While it is apparent that breaking in to the US will be no easy task, there is great potential for growth and UK suppliers need to understand how the US market operates in order to get their foot in the door. The three key factors identified to help UK firms break in to the US are:

  • Find a partner
  • Enter the market with an innovative product not just a new face
  • Understand the complexities of the US healthcare systems

It is not going to be as easy to enter the market in the US compared to other countries explored, if the right measures are taken, UK SMEs can enjoy some success.

Because all these countries are English speaking, existing material can often be used as it already is.

Intellect aims to ensure that UK Healthcare IT SMEs can make informed business decisions about entering new markets and have all the support they need. Our research in to these countries shows that, even though breaking in to foreign markets is not an easy task, it is not impossible and can be achieved with the right considerations.

Sinead Quinn
Health Programme Manager, Intellect

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Intellect : Healthcare IT international market research