How can healthtech companies build trust and credibility?

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Kate Hunter, Director 

Trust is the cornerstone of healthcare. Patients are much more likely to seek treatment, follow medical advice, or embrace innovation if they trust the system. 

Yet, in the ever-expanding field of healthtech, gaining it in a crowded marketplace and standing out for the right reasons can feel like an uphill struggle. In the UK alone – a country dubbed Europe’s ‘Silicon Valley of healthcare’ - a total of 1,090 healthtech startups have received funding since 2016. The combined value of London’s healthtech startups has also increased by nine times since 2016, taking its total value to $21.3bn, the largest in Europe. 

With so much competition and the stakes so high, if the healthtech sector is to deliver on its promises of speed, efficiency and impact, it’s not enough to just have high quality products and safety assurances. Organisations must go the extra mile to build trust and credibility among a diverse audience. 

The good news is, there are clear steps organisations can take. Effective communication is the lynchpin, helping align the diverse priorities of an intricate web of stakeholders. It can not only foster credibility and confidence in recently founded start-ups, but play a critical role in minimising fear factors and improving accessibility for patients. 

So where to begin? 

1: Demonstrate an understanding of a complex stakeholder landscape 

The healthcare ecosystem is an intricate tapestry with diverse stakeholders, each with their unique priorities and perspectives. From the NHS and NICE to government agencies, regulators, and consumers, every voice holds weight. Successful communication requires a deep understanding of these stakeholders, their concerns, and their decision-making processes. Demonstrating this understanding upfront is key to building trust within the complex landscape.

Ahead of any communications programme, mapping out detailed audience personas provides valuable insights into the motivations, pain points, and communication preferences of each stakeholder group. Conducting this exercise during the research phase can also help identify key influencers, decision-makers, and potential allies or detractors, informing a more targeted and effective communication strategy tailored to their needs - fostering trust through relevance.

2: Navigate regulatory compliance 

Regulatory bodies play a pivotal role in safeguarding public health and ensuring the integrity of healthtech innovations. Adhering to stringent guidelines and requirements is paramount, but compliance alone is not enough to build trust. Organisations need to go a step further.  

Effective communication strategies prioritising transparency and consistency are crucial for earning confidence from regulators. This can be achieved by developing clear and consistent messaging frameworks aligned with regulatory guidelines and sticking to robust approval processes and quality control measures which ensure accuracy and compliance across all channels. 

It's this consistency which will ultimately breed familiarity and trust, helping to reinforce an organisation’s commitment to reliability and trustworthiness. In addition to compliance, public affairs initiatives can play a vital role in advocating for policy changes that address systemic healthcare challenges. This can include closing the gender divide in cancer outcomes in the UK. In doing so, organisations can tangibly demonstrate a genuine commitment to improving healthcare outcomes and building public trust. 

3: Establish industry expertise 

In an ever-evolving field, thought leadership is a powerful tool for building credibility and trust.  

By positioning their solution as a respected authority, organisations can shape industry discourse, influence decision-makers, and inspire confidence in their solutions. This can take multiple formats – from producing thought leadership to participating in industry events and collaborating with academic institutions. Each is key to elevating an organisation's voice, showcasing expertise and reinforcing commitment to advancing the field. 

Crucially, communicating the processes, protocols, and outcomes of clinical trials transparently can further reinforce expertise and commitment to rigorous scientific standards. This means presenting complex data through compelling data visualisations and clear narratives that resonate with diverse audiences. Distilling intricate methodologies and findings into accessible stories can help build trust by demonstrating a deep understanding of the science behind the solution. Leverage case studies, patient testimonials, and quantified results to create data-driven storytelling that brings the clinical evidence to life in an engaging and human-centric way. 

In the complex and ever-evolving healthtech landscape, trust and credibility are strategic imperatives. Effective communication is key to fostering trust, amplifying expertise, and ultimately driving adoption and success. By understanding the stakeholder landscape, navigating regulations transparently and cementing thought leadership, an organisation can earn the credibility required to stand out and succeed. 

Missive is an integrated communications consultancy with deep tech sector specialisms built from years of industry experience.  

Our work with healthtech Koa Health leveraged thought leadership to shape the mental health and wellbeing discourse, building brand awareness and engaging numerous stakeholders. Read about the business impact our work had here

For help using communications to build enduring trust in the sector, contact the team

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