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Success factors for scaling a healthtech business

By Tom Collings, CEO, Kalium Health


Healthtech attracts investment because companies in this space offer excellent long-term financial returns by creating value for society. Few sectors offer such a direct way of profitably improving and saving lives.


There are lots of recent examples of innovative start-ups growing quickly, from Zoe and Thriva in the UK to Kaia in Germany. Those businesses that collect or leverage data are particularly successful because many health conditions are linked and this information can often provide actionable, hence valuable, new health insights. Kalium Health focuses on gathering the important data, rapidly analysing it and giving clinicians and patients real time information that can be used to inform treatment and lifestyle decisions. This is where opportunities for huge value creation exist.


However, as in every sector, some ideas turn out to be a stand-out success while others grow more slowly or pivot to new market segments. There is no playbook for how to scale successfully, but here are the top three factors that I see in the most successful companies:


Start with an urgent unmet clinical need


There is a perception amongst some investors that medtech or healthtech is more of a ‘slow burn’ than other tech sectors because distribution and reimbursement chains are complex and there is a lot of inertia in the current standard of care. While there is some truth in this, I find most stakeholders are very responsive and enthusiastic about solutions that solve specific, persistent problems.


Being able to scale rapidly requires a company to present a clear solution to a well-understood healthcare problem. It should enable clinicians to make better and more efficient use of their time and ultimately have a positive impact on patient experiences. This makes physicians and patients advocates for innovation, which helps drive faster reimbursement.


We started Kalium Health because we heard what patients and doctors were saying – why is there no way for people with kidney disease to monitor and manage their health between clinic visits? With this as our north star we developed technology to addresses critical risks for this population, beginning with our rapid blood potassium self-test.


This focus on a clear clinical need increasingly aligns with emerging value-based care approaches and supports the accelerating shift towards remote monitoring and self-management. These tailwinds help us as we plan our next stages of scale-up.


Focus on interventions that make the biggest impact


Joe Mullings, at a recent DeviceTalks, made the point that remote patient monitoring (RPM) doesn’t get enough attention given so much is being spent managing chronic disease . He is right. RPM is relatively low hanging fruit, where tech-led interventions can have outsized impact.


Rock Health’s Q3 2023 digital health report indicated US venture funding strongly skewing towards long term disease management. Nephrology start-ups have already raised over $0.7bn this year, second only to mental health. There are huge opportunities for investors who have spotted the gap for companies focused on improving the management of complex conditions like chronic kidney disease.

When we meet with investors, I increasingly see them beginning to understand the sheer scale of kidney disease and size of the economic opportunity, which provides multiple options for short and long-term value creation.


Learn from the best


There are many patient-centric medtech companies that have scaled successfully, and in doing so they have acquired knowledge that is strategically valuable for others. AliveCor is a great example. This US based company is focused on improving the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease by using pocket-sized AI-powered ECG sensors that deliver medical grade heart data at any time. It worked hard to secure FDA approval and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars since its founding.


Now, over two million patients are using AliveCor products, showing how diagnostic technologies can scale at speed. Ranndy Kellogg, AliveCor Board Director, also joined our Board this year alongside his other roles, which include President and CEO of Omron Healthcare. He brings significant expertise in patient-centric health monitoring that is helping us at Kalium Health with our strategy for scale up.


Similarly, i-STAT Corporation, which pioneered point of care blood analysis, grew rapidly under Bill Moffitt, who took the company from research to IPO and eventual acquisition by Abbott Laboratories. Bill joined our Advisory Board in October and we are benefiting from his experience of scaling in the US as we plan our launch into that market.


If you would like further information about Kalium Health, or would like to discuss company scale-up or investment opportunities, please get in touch at www.kaliumhealth.com/contact


 

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