Digital health companies say 2023 a tricky year to sell to NHS

  • 18 January 2024
Digital health companies say 2023 a tricky year to sell to NHS

A survey from Silver Buck into communications for health tech and digital health companies has found that the majority agreed that 2023 was more difficult than previous years to sell to the NHS.

The survey from the health tech communications agency revealed that 58% of the companies surveyed said last year was more difficult to sell to the NHS, with start-ups and scale-ups facing even greater challenges. In this group, 61% said they found it harder, compared to 50% of larger corporations in the sector.

This may be due to the importance of an established brand and clear proof points of the larger corporations in the sector. In addition, funding constraints impacting health and social care, and significant organisational restructuring through the introduction of Integrated Care Systems, make identification of clear decision-makers increasingly challenging.

The Big Health Tech Communications Report also found that despite a decrease in NHS health tech funding and VC interest, PR and marketing budgets for health tech and digital health companies either increased or remained the same in 2023.

Start-ups and scale-ups were the most likely to increase their spend (51%), followed by medium-sized companies (43%) and then large corporates (21%).

Sarah Bruce, co-founder of Silver Buck, said: “Marketing is often the first casualty in a downturn or correction in a sector, however, the health tech space is showing real resilience and commitment to using communications to gain or defend market share.

“Competition within an industry of over 5,000 health tech companies competing for a finite number of pilot sites, contracts, funding, or acquisition opportunities is without question, driving the appetite for strong communications.”

The survey determined that trade shows were considered to deliver the most impact in helping companies meet their goals (79%), followed by social media (77%). SEO and digital marketing were polled to have the least impact.

Digital Health emerged as the most-read trade publication – with 34% of the vote, followed by Health Service Journal (30%) and Health Tech Newspaper (13%). The Digital Health Discourse Forum also gained a vote of confidence, with it gaining twice as much engagement from policy influencers than the NHS-owned Future Forum, indicating a preference for independent platforms over official ones.

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