18 October 2019
This week the Workroom team attended the GIANT Health festival in London, an annual 2-day gathering of healthtech innovators.
GIANT founder Barry Shrier started the conference with the mission of making it accessible to all, even those who are right at the start of their careers. As such, it’s a very mixed crowd of students, tech enthusiasts, investors, doctors, product designers and everyone in between.
The conference is organised across several ‘tracks’, each tackling an area of healthtech.
A number of themes emerged from the discussions we were part of:
It should surprise no one that the problem of aged care and wellness dominated the agenda. The Nuffield Trust estimates we will need at least another 17,000 beds within the next 2 years to cope with our aging population.
Several speakers drew attention to a shift in the focus of new tech aimed at prevention and overall wellness in older adults, as opposed to predominantly on the treatment of symptomatic patients. The NHS’s goal is to keep people living well at home for at least 5 years longer than the current average.
One of many companies innovating in this space is Birdie, whose mission is to create technology that connects everyone involved in the provision of care to older adults in their own homes.
These companies are innovating with the design (form) and UX of this tech so that it is completely accessible for older people. It’s no longer correct to assume older people are tech laggards; many speakers were able to show how capable their customers were when it comes to using smart technology to take control of their wellbeing.
WORKROOM’S OUTTAKE: Investing in design (product, comms, service) is vital to help end-users access new technology and connect healthcare providers, improving outcomes all round. And get to know your target audience – they might surprise you!
We are now firmly in a post-GDPR era, resulting in many companies revising the way they collect and use personal data. Our growing interest in health-related personalisation, wearables, AI and latterly neural interfaces prompted several debates over the 2-day event about confidentiality and data management.
And in terms of how accepting we are about increasingly intrusive tech, Dr Vernon Bainton at Havas Lynx Medical shared some research that while there is strong support amongst the general public for technology such as neural interfaces being used to help symptomatic patients (eg those with spinal injuries), there is much less support for the same technology to help well people enhance functionality.
WORKROOM’S OUTTAKE: trust is an established driver of consumer choice amongst increasingly brand-savvy consumers. A strong, authentic brand identity engenders confidence and good will amongst audiences.
This year, we felt healthtech innovators had well and truly cottoned on to just how powerful a good “founder’s story” can be, not just to customers, but also with investors and potential employees. Tania Boler, founder of Elvie, spoke about her own journey to champion previously taboo women’s health issues, and Max Parmentier from Birdie caused a few wobbly lips with his story about putting his family’s trauma over putting his grandfather into care, motivating him to innovate within social care.
But it’s not just the start-ups: Neil Mesher, CEO of Philips in the UK, gave us a profile of patient X, “Mary”, in a typical Philips customer journey, who is a breast cancer survivor. At the end, Mesher revealed that Mary was in fact his mother, proof that even in huge corporations, people want to make the corporate purpose something they relate to personally.
WORKROOM’S OUTTAKE: sharing stories that encourage audiences to emotional invest in your brand doesn’t just secure engagement and loyalty – it also reassures investors about your ongoing commitment.
We’re definitely seeing the rapid evolution of the way larger corporates are expanding their influence over new healthtech innovations. For several years, RB (Reckitt Benckiser), a long-term Workroom client, has invited entrepreneurs to develop their ideas in their “Innovation Lab”, and it’s now a common inclusion in most company R&D agendas.
But in an age when cynicism of the corporate world is rife, how do these larger companies spread the world about how they can support groundbreaking innovation, in a way that’s meaningful as well as “on-brand”.
Parul Kaul-Green, Head of AXA NEXT Labs at Axa Insurance, stated that AXA is keen to be move from being seen as merely a ‘payer of [health insurance] claims’ to a company innovating in prevention. To date, AXA NEXT has invested in 40 health-tech enterprises, and incubated a further 13 within the company.
A cynic might observe that AXA depends on people not making claims, so it stands to reason that they want to invest in wellness and healthcare innovation. How do AXA and other large investors position their offer to innovators to ensure it sits comfortably with their purpose and values?
WORKROOM’S OUTTAKE: Companies that want to attract creative minds need to articulate a genuine and motivating purpose.
Workroom has acquired a reputation for helping innovators develop their brand identity, applying our trademark #strategiccreativity – balanced with the practical needs of a nascent business – to help these often fast-growing enterprises develop a framework for how they communicate. In this way, our clients are then able to quickly realise new opportunities, and share their stories with audiences.
Our services include:
We’re currently working with renal care pioneers Quanta Dialysis Technologies on their corporate brand and product positioning. In the past, we’ve helped serial entrepreneurs like Dr Richard Steeves develop the brand comms for several of his ventures including the highly successful Synergy Health.
If you would like to see how we can help your healthtech brand grow, please contact Brigid McMullen at email@example.com