Three things to expect in health tech communications in 2024
Our cofounder and director, Sarah Bruce, gives her thoughts on how the health tech communications landscape will shift throughout 2024.
AI will evolve but connections will be key
Experimental AI took off in 2023 but very few companies have been using it in a meaningful way for health tech communications, unsurprisingly for an industry that is more risk-averse and more highly regulated.
The next 12 months will see professionalisation of AI where companies get value from using it as a supplementary tool rather than a replacement. Like most industries this will lead to some positive outcomes like freeing up time from laborious reporting tasks and making way for more for creativity in the sector.
On the PR side, using AI for press releases and content could have some real down sides in a sector that has a relatively small number of health tech publications. As more companies use AI to create content, we could see a saturation of generic messages, making it challenging for authentic and compelling stories to break through the noise. Journalists (already inundated with news) are likely to be even more overwhelmed with tons of poorly crafted, generic copy hitting their inboxes from health tech companies who would have never previously ventured into PR. This could result in a decline in media standards but also make it harder for strong stories to break through. The demand for personal relationships and authentic media connections will be critical in 2024 to obtain share of voice.
Evidence, case studies and referenceability will continue to reign
Early results from Silver Buck’s ‘Big Health Tech Communications Survey’ show that the majority of NHS health tech professionals (CIOs, CCIOs etc) rely heavily on evidence and case studies to support them in their decision making. The study also suggests that their biggest challenge in understanding the health tech market is lack of time. As resources become more stretched across health and social care, the need for clear, evidence-based content with a value first approach will be hugely important as the market gets tougher. However, suppliers will need to find more creative ways to capture and maintain attention.
The survey results, which will be released in January, also suggest that although health tech companies may continue to push their influencers and thought leaders through newer media platforms such as podcasts, they may need to find other ways to engage NHS decision makers who are yet to listen to them on a professional basis. These platforms may also be hit by the ROI challenge, where marketing budgets simply can’t be used on nice to haves.
Events will still be paramount but marketers will have to work them harder
Events will continue to see strong traction in the sector as one of the key ways that suppliers can get air time with prospects and customers but it will undoubtedly get more challenging for NHS professionals to travel and attend. Suppliers will need to diversify the PR and marketing spend to find new ways of reaching their audience and use events for more than just a footprint – capturing unique opportunities to be with their customers to generate content and advocacy while they are there.
Larger health tech companies will continue to invest in paid social and digital. However, brand building and relationship establishment where digital health companies demonstrate they really understand the healthcare systems’ deep and complex pain points can rarely be replaced by paid social campaigns. Unlike in other sectors, unless there is some serious money and a strong skillset behind it, those that don’t have this could be disappointed by its impact.