It is not enough to simply plug technology into existing healthcare interventions, we must draw inspiration not only from what startups have achieved but from how they have gone about achieving it.
Startups are not just tech businesses; they live by a methodology of learning and testing, a willingness to take risks, resilience in the face of failure, and an unwavering pursuit of growth.
Embracing the startup mindset as a practice is not entirely dissimilar to my specialist area of precision medicine. Where one involves the practice of incorporating the pool of mechanistic tools in our arsenal, factoring in all discoveries of molecular medicine to improve diagnostics and treatments, the other requires the adoption of an entire working culture and mindset in order to innovate. Both involve a holistic approach.
There is no shortage of inspiring ideas in health and care tech, not least in a country with such a rich history of innovation. Breakthroughs in this industry are not rare, but the full potential of their applicability and impact is not always reached.
The real challenge we face is in the execution and the adoption of these concepts at scale. To create meaningful change we must push the industry further to drive forward and to drive further. We must look to the startup world to learn how to take these findings and discoveries from research and development through to testing, and into clinical settings across the country.
While healthcare innovation faces unique challenges, (the high stakes of patient care, data protection, the complexity of regulations, etc.) these challenges should not deter us from pursuing innovation. Progress has been made at a state and an industry level to address these challenges: NHS Innovation Hubs (previously known as Test Beds) offer real clinical settings for testing products.
Dedicated groups assist in navigating these bureaucratic hurdles. Specialised funds have been established to support concept development in healthtech. These interventions seek to break down these barriers, but to bridge this gap in healthtech we must work together in a “triple helix partnership” between the NHS, academia, and industry to create a seamless pipeline from research and development to real-world implementation. This approach holds the potential to reduce waiting lists, improve patient outcomes, and boost economic growth.
In September, I will join Mark Logan, the chief entrepreneur for the Scottish Government, to discuss how Scotland can embrace entrepreneurial and startup thinking to address our health and care challenges.
This event is our opportunity to unite, share insights, and chart a new course for healthcare innovation. We will discuss how we can capitalise on the momentum of ideas, how to adopt innovation at scale, and we will discuss both the barriers to innovation and the infrastructure needed to break them down.
If we are to genuinely effect change we must involve the people who are directly involved in the delivery of healthcare, and not rely as heavily on the tech industry itself to intervene in health and care. I look forward to welcoming clinicians, healthcare professionals, and people from across the medical community, who all share the desire to lean into entrepreneurial thinking.
Introducing: Techscaler & NHS Innovation Hubs event takes place at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh on Friday 22nd September.