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The Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI): Connecting HealthTech

Health technology (HealthTech) is a key partner to the NHS, enabling improved efficiencies and effectiveness across the system. Investment in the latest devices, digitisation and diagnostic technologies can bring significant benefits to patient care, cutting waiting times and alleviating workforce burdens.

Representing the industry here in the UK is the Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI). Our role as a membership body is to support this community to save and enhance lives. With 300 members, including both multinationals and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), our companies provide a broad range of products into the healthcare system, from syringes and wound dressings, to surgical robots and digitally enhanced technologies. In short, the chances are HealthTech will touch all our lives at some point.

With 127,400 people working across 3,860 companies up and down the UK, the HealthTech sector provides vital technologies and services that improve patient outcomes and, critically, deliver efficiencies for the NHS. At ABHI, we advocate for a stronger focus on value-based purchasing, so that these companies can drive improved outcomes at the lowest overall cost to the health and care system. We also continue to campaign for the UK health landscape to rapidly adopt best and emerging clinical practice. This covers the interaction between financial and funding mechanisms, payment systems, health technology assessments and commissioning policies, as well as the enabling organisational landscape.

We help companies to understand the regulatory environment, so that patients can access HealthTech safely and quickly. And we aim to cultivate a positive environment that encourages growth for the sector. This is enabled through our comprehensive programme of international activity, which includes hosting UK Pavilions at some of the world’s largest health shows, dedicated HealthTech trade missions to key markets and business development support through our US Accelerator programme.

In doing all of this, it is important we represent the sector to key stakeholders, such as the UK Government, NHS and regulators, as a collaborative approach to overcoming challenges provides a significant opportunity to improve the health and wealth of our country.

Few industrial sectors rely on collaboration to the extent of HealthTech. We have a proud engineering history, addressing challenges identified in clinical settings. Often those solutions require a sea change in how to develop, assess and deploy new generations of technology. Sixty years ago, that could have been the use of electrical stimulation, today it might be new diagnostic, robotic or digital applications. It is therefore important that we connect our members to the research community, and vice versa.

A critical partner in this process is the NIHR, the UK’s largest public funder of health and social care research. NIHR’s critical work funds a broad range of R&D expertise, which in turn become embedded in the country’s leading universities and hospitals: often the birthplace of many a HealthTech innovation. As such, we are also a key partner and supporter of the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), working with them to support company initiatives and recommending activities that will further improve their work.

It’s easy to forget, but the proximity of our research capability to the largest single payer health system in the world is the one truly unique advantage the UK has over its global competitors. The reach into the NHS provided by the likes of the NIHR is particularly important in that respect. ABHI, and the broader HealthTech community, look forward to continuing work that ensures the best innovations are adopted by the system.

For more information visit the ABHI website

For more information on how the NIHR supports companies with the development of HealthTech

Jonathan Evans, Communications Manager, ABHI


The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.