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UK health tech predictions for 2024

UK health tech

It has been a mixed year for the UK’s health tech sector. VC investment into health tech startups stalled at similar levels to 2022 (a 37% drop from 2021), and a report highlighted an urgent need for intervention to ensure the UK can match the support for health tech companies offered elsewhere in the world. 

But the UK health tech sector also saw a renewed focus as the dust settled from the Covid-19 pandemic. London-based investor Spex Capital launched an £88m health tech fund and West Yorkshire was announced as a new regional investment zone focused on health tech in November, with a view to creating 2,500 new jobs and unlocking £220 million in investment. 

With the NHS facing numerous challenges including waiting list backlogs, patient safety concerns and data protection issues, UKTN asked health tech leaders for their predictions on what we can expect in the UK’s health tech sector next year. Here are their answers. 

Procurement frameworks will change 

“We have a ready and willing army of health tech entrepreneurs with great solutions but we need to create an environment where we can make use of these services in a timely manner.

“This will require a major rethink of purchasing processes and procurement frameworks and a greater degree of agility than we have ever seen in healthcare.” 

– Dr Tim Ringrose, co-founder and CEO, Cognitant Group   

VR will become the new surgical norm 

“With waiting lists for operations at an all-time high, technologies that improve efficiencies and enhance collaboration between surgical teams within (and between) hospitals will come to the fore. 2024 will see surgeons wearing VR headsets that enable them to visualise a patient’s organs through interactive holograms, to plan smarter, safer operations 

“Virtual and mixed reality technologies are reshaping training programs too, allowing the upcoming workforce to practise in risk-free virtual environments, expedite their learning process, and alleviate the critical issue of burnout among healthcare professionals. In 2024, these developments will shape what will become the new norm of surgical practice.” 

– Alison Sundset, CEO, HoloCare 

 Patient safety and security will be prioritised 

“Medical cannabis and weight management were amongst the fastest-growing and most invested-in health tech subsectors in 2023. Fuelled by celebrity endorsement and media attention, all signs point to continued exponential growth in these markets in 2024.   

“In order to sustain their success, it’s imperative that these health tech companies can demonstrate and abide by the highest standards of security and patient safety. This means providing appropriate clinical pathways for patients to access treatment safely, and to ensure that controlled medication does not fall into the wrong hands. This can be achieved by leveraging technology infrastructures in partnership with experienced and established providers.” 

– Adam Hunter, CCO, Phlo Technologies

The election could impact investment and technology rollout 

“I expect an increased emphasis from government on accelerating the adoption and spread of new technologies – this will become more important as the election approaches and the combination of funding pressures and increased demand squeeze the NHS at both ends. Many of the companies we support through our accelerator successfully pilot their innovations, but national rollout is still a very real issue, especially for SMEs. 

“A risk facing the sector in 2024 is that political instability might deter investment into the companies and organisations developing these innovations; unless we have a clear result, this could prove a setback and prevent the realisation of the promising opportunities many have already recognised.” 

– Jason Brannan, deputy director, Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University 

 Patient communication solutions will tackle NHS waiting lists 

“What we’ve seen accelerate in 2023 is more healthcare organisations – particularly in primary care – using messaging to resolve patient requests instead of automatically scheduling an appointment, even if they don’t need one. This is one of the main ways in which the NHS can become more sustainable in the face of high patient demand and limited workforce capacity.

“We hope to see this approach to care delivery gather pace next year, and with this more interest in and development of solutions which enable structured data capture and care navigation, particularly in the outpatient setting where it has the potential to address record waiting lists.” 

– Jacob Haddad, CEO and co-founder, Accurx 

Neurology-focused solutions will receive more investment 

“The arrival of disease-modifying therapies for dementia and other neurological conditions has reinvigorated the neurology space. We expect to see more investment in health tech startups developing solutions that help physicians tailor medication and therapy access as well as monitor therapeutic benefit. 

“The best solutions will be used in the home by patient or carer and use existing technology such as smartphones or tablets to remotely and quantitively assess patient symptoms, heralding the era of precision neurology.” 

– Heather Roxborough, senior partner and head of health tech, Oxford Science Enterprises 

 Pressure on health tech companies will drive mergers and closures 

“We will see market concentration of various smaller and mid-sized health tech players, mainly through mergers but also closures. A combination of factors will cause this and put pressure on health tech companies. First, the continued reluctance of VCs to keep funding unsustainable business peered with an increased focus on commercial validity.

“Second, a more centralised and streamlined approach of NHS procurement will start to show impact on pilots and siloed projects. Potential to scale and clear evidence will become ever more important.

“On the tech front, large AI players such as Microsoft will swoop in and buy up SMEs and their staff as well as skills to secure market domination and ensure to plug their gaps in skilled workforce.”

– Konrad Dobschuetz, national director, NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) and chief enterprise officer, UCLPartners 

 Personalised healthcare will be a 2024 theme 

“Scientific breakthroughs continue to push us towards healthcare treatments that can be tailored towards an individual, and with innovation accelerating at a rapid pace, personalised healthcare will become a big theme in 2024.  

“We’re seeing the health tech market tapping into personalised healthcare through remote monitoring devices, which are becoming much more widespread. These are devices that can help monitor physiological symptoms to provide an overall map of a patient’s health which can then be used to ensure accurate medical care, tailored to each individual.”  

– Billy Boyle, founder and CEO, Owlstone Medical and OMED Health 

 Interoperability will remain a priority 

“Interoperability will remain a priority for health tech leaders in 2024. As outlined by NHS England, there is a clear and pressing need for more aligned information sharing between the vast number of different care settings and organisations that make up the NHS. Following the formal introduction of Integrated Care Systems last year, this push for truly joined-up care has become more focused than ever.  

“Collaborative working is key to facilitating this; but if the digital systems being used by clinicians cannot effectively ‘speak’ to one another, collaboration on an ICS-wide scale becomes unachievable. To effectively support the move to more joined-up care in 2024 and beyond, health tech innovators must therefore put interoperability at the core of their offering – ensuring that digital solutions can be seamlessly integrated to deliver tangible, long-lasting impact for clinicians and their patients.” 

– Dr Anas Nader, CEO and co-founder, Patchwork Health 

 Cyber resilience will become an increasing concern 

“As CEO of a health tech company, cyber resilience and the need for secure servers is an increasing concern regarding the sensitivity of data. This sentiment is echoed in the release of a new cyber security strategy by the government for health and adult social care.  

“As we move into 2024, those working in health tech must take adequate steps to ensure the protection of users’ data, particularly as cyber threats become more and more sophisticated. Leaders must take heed of relevant legislation laid out in standards such as the Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC). Beyond meeting this baseline, if health tech leaders want to allow their products to compete with the rest of the market, they need to ensure that they promote cyber resilience by actively staying ahead of any security worries or threats.” 

– Dr Owain Rhys Hughes, CEO and founder, Cinapsis 

 Self-help solutions will proliferate 

“As we move into 2024, we’ll see a surge in “self-help” tech being built to empower patients and make healthcare readily available at home. These DIY health solutions and apps will meet younger generations’ desire for easier, more accessible and autonomous healthcare options, while unlocking safer access to care for older patients by improving symptom monitoring and reducing the need to travel for treatment.  

“Whether it’s through building brand new devices that bring clinical fertility treatments like ICI into people’s homes, offering widespread access to DIY health checks like vitamin and hormone blood tests, or developing hearing training apps to facilitate more preventative care; these new “self-help” solutions will empower patients to take back ownership of their own health, while reducing pressure on our severely overstretched healthcare services.” 

– Tess Cosad, CEO and co-founder, Béa Fertility