Jenny Saft, CEO and Co-Founder of Apryl, shares her experience and insights with Health Tech World about adapting to different markets in the health tech sector…
Launching a health tech company in new markets is a rewarding but challenging venture. As CEO and co-founder of Apryl, a Berlin-based fertility company whose client base spans 30 European countries, I have experienced first-hand the complexities that come with getting to know the health landscape in different markets, and adapting a product accordingly.
Below is my advice on how to make the successful leap from a national to an international health company, and how to avoid some common pitfalls along the way.
Consider cultural and legal differences
The health industry is highly regulated, meaning that before you scale as a health tech you need to have a clear understanding of the varying laws and health regulations in each country you’re looking to enter.
Many companies operating within the EU fall into the trap of seeing EU countries’ legal systems as monolithic, but this isn’t always the case.
It’s important to get clarity on everything from health and safety and data protection laws, to clinical approval requirements (should you be scaling a medical device) and the nuanced way in which healthcare is funded and delivered in each region.
For example, as a fertility tech company, we had to consider how laws surrounding fertility treatments differ from country to country, and therefore how the service we could offer in each market needed to change.
Having a clear picture of these regulations as you prepare to launch overseas allows you to build plenty of time for regulatory and legal proceedings into your roadmap.
Make yourself familiar with each market’s healthcare system
Before entering into new health markets, you also need to consider the nature of each country’s healthcare infrastructure and assess how your health tech will operate within the existing system. Consider, does the country have public and private healthcare? And is the system centralised, or does it operate in regional hubs, like the UK’s NHS?
How will this structure affect how you sell and integrate your product, and how do the various health institutions and organisations decide which tech to procure?
All of these factors will influence your go-to-market strategy for each new territory; clearly visualising the intricacies of the healthcare infrastructure in a potential market allows you to forecast everything from your costs to potential uptake accurately.
Hire in-country experts
Hiring in-country experts can be a great way to ensure that your transition to international markets is successful.
Their local insights can provide you with country-specific knowledge that you may have missed including competitors, upcoming legislation or cultural nuances which could impact how your solution is received.
Local teams can also provide you with a ‘local’s’ knowledge of the healthcare system, including patient priorities in that country and insights into how to conduct business and cultivate strong business relationships there.
Build flexibility into your product
A great way to facilitate a seamless transition to different international markets is to build flexibility into your product from the outset.
This will allow you to easily adjust your product to meet specific market conditions down the line, and shorten timelines for international rollout.
This may involve building software that meets regulatory and licensing requirements in multiple potential markets from the outset, or developing a user interface which is easily adaptable for country-specific services and needs.
Forward planning can ease the transition to different markets and will allow you to save time and money as you grow.
For any business, adapting to different markets requires detailed planning, but the increased regulations of the healthcare sector can provide additional challenges.
Gaining a clear insight into prospective markets will allow you to understand exactly what changes you may need to make in order to make your product stick; and strategic hires, including in-country experts, can help you ensure you’re making the very best decisions across the business and on the ground.
Jenny Saft, 2022