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Why health tech is the new frontier

There is no denying that technology has changed the way we live and work. You don’t need to look far for examples of organisations that have disrupted their sector with technological innovations. Companies like Amazon, Uber and Airbnb have reshaped how we shop and travel, but a sector that’s experienced steady, but critical innovation is the health industry. It’s not a new phenomenon; the history of modern science and technology is intimately linked, but it’s a story which has faded over the last 10 years as the world’s eyes turn to new frontiers.

What’s needed is a new story – one with health tech at its centre. Health tech is a rapidly evolving category that delivers ever more sophisticated technology solutions for the provision and management of healthcare. It has been a victim of complicated regulation and legislation which has impacted the speed of change. However, the tide is shifting and the Health tech industry is now estimated to be worth 43 billion dollars by 2018 and it is chock full of exciting companies that can challenge society’s perception of what’s possible, whilst also improving health and wellbeing.

It’s now time for this sector to communicate these potentially complex technological innovations and to make these advancements resonate with a mass audience. From a PRO’s perspective, this poses a new, exciting challenge. The opportunity to create a discussion around the benefits of technologies in this space – the public are becoming more receptive to health initiatives, and are much more engaged in their own vitality and the technology enabling that enables them to learn more about their health.

Without stories, we can only ever talk about product benefits in isolation. Stories put a human face on achievements – making the remote seem incredibly accessible. Consequently, PROs need to ensure that they create compelling storylines which not only resonate with their clients, but their audience and the wider world. This isn’t new. Every industry has had to educate consumers about the benefits they bring and this is a role only communications can play. This means the aim of anyone working in Health Tech PR is simple – tell the story of why it matters and use this to help grow a commercial market around a healthcare product, service or technology.

But, every story needs focus and an entry point. We can’t simply talk about every minute detail of the industry and expect our audience to care. We need to identify key aspects of health tech where consumer understanding is high and use these as a gateway to the sector. The benefits of wearable technologies are well documented and brands like Fitbit are, if not household names, then certainly something people are aware of. We need to start with quick wins like this if we’re to raise awareness of the remarkable potential of technology in the healthcare sector.

Once we’ve earned people’s attention, we can then start to focus on the details – how we address industry challenges such as the security of medical data and the role that data can play in making us all healthier are much easier to understand if our audience has an anchor point to refer to.

So what’s next? For fast-growth start-ups, there’s an urgent need to build credibility around their offerings, whilst established organisations will need elements of brand protection and reputation awareness. This can’t be siloed by region. Health tech needs to grow internationally if it’s to survive, which means a consistent message is vital for everyone involved in the sector. The ability to tell a global story on a local level, coupled with an innate understanding of whose opinion matters, means communication agencies are a vital partner for emerging or high growth sectors like health tech.

Where health tech goes next has the potential to revolutionise the life of millions across the globe. But amazing innovations don’t just evolve without a reliable audience that can help sustain its growth. This is where PR can shine; communications has a vital role to play to first educate and then create a sense of desire that is essential for the sector to continue to grow.

Article written by Catherine Desmidt, senior programme director at PR agency Hotwire

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