May 10 2016

North East innovators join Onyx Health’s growing list of clients

Onyx Health is the North East’s only specialist healthcare communications agency, quadrupling its number of clients in the region over the past year.  Its latest signings include diabetic eye health innovators PolyPhotonix and Quality Hospital Solutions (QHS), an inventive, problem-solving supplier to the NHS.

A move from central Durham to Hoults Yard in Byker last year enabled Onyx Health to take on new team members and grow relationships with a network of healthcare providers.

“We’re here to solve problems and get results for healthcare SMEs, so we’re proud to be working with two of the most innovative companies in the North East,” says Onyx Health Director, Karen Winterhalter (pictured).


Onyx Health Director, Karen Winterhalter

“We go beyond light-touch PR and marketing to help innovative healthcare and life science businesses break the cycle of research-funding-research, taking them to a commercial level.”

PolyPhotonix is well-known in the region for its ground-breaking OLED eye mask for diabetic retinopathy – the biggest cause of blindness in working-age adults.  It’s the first treatment of its kind to offer not just treatment, but prevention, to those in the earliest stages of retinopathy, and does so without any invasive, painful intervention.

“The Noctura 400 mask has such potential.  It’s a UK first, well researched, and it’s CE marked and ready to buy.  We wanted to support it by increasing awareness beyond the North East and across the country,” Karen adds.

“There are thousands of diabetics looking for a product like this, who can’t afford to wait for it to be available through the NHS.  When it comes to saving their sight, many agree that under £3 per day is a price well worth paying.”

“Quite often companies with great products might not realise that their high-profile is limited to just the scientific and research circles they operate in.  The key is to reach out to customers with an important message about the product and its potential.”

1,200 people a year go blind through diabetic retinopathy, with many more becoming visually impaired.  It affects 90% of type 1 and 67% of type 2 diabetics in their lifetime, with no early symptoms.  Onyx Health are working to raise the profile of the disease through a media relations strategy, charity engagement and a social media campaign.

QHS is another local innovation success story, with Director and inventor Andrew Turner devising clever solutions to common problems in hospitals.  He has worked closely with Sunderland City Hospital and hopes to find new routes to market for his array of unique products.

“QHS is well-known for developing a special beverage trolley to provide patients and their families with a decent cup of tea or coffee, but many of its other inventions have the potential to be life-saving or make changes to existing products that can significantly impact on patient safety.”

“We want to reach out to hospitals across the UK, to show how Andrew’s inventions can benefit the patient experience and safety, without impacting heavily on costs,” Karen explains.

“The business has far to go, and we’ll be working closely with QHS to help devise an effective marketing strategy that puts them in front of their target customers.”

Having taken her business from London and back to her home in the North East five years ago, Karen is keen to bring a new level of healthcare marketing expertise to the region.  Onyx Health will be sponsoring the SME award at the NHS Innovations Bright Ideas awards in May, raiding the profile of new ideas in the local health market.

“It’s important for healthcare SMEs to have focused and good value marketing support.  We want to prove that a booming health industry really does exist within the Northern Powerhouse, and that we’re ready to become the marketing team for any growing company wanting to be a commercial success.”

Karen and her team of Northumbria University alumni are determined to grow Onyx Health by first growing their clients’ businesses.  For more information on healthcare marketing communications, visit or call the team on 0191 640 3638.