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BW Businessworld

Healthcare: 2.O

The combined effects of consumerism, value, quality driven care and digital technologies — from apps to wearables —are giving rise to new healthcare delivery services and diagnostics

Photo Credit : Bivash Banerjee


Even as India is making remarkable economic progress, its healthcare system continues to trail behind those of other emerging countries. The rapid change of the Indian healthcare sector and tailwinds to propel the sector to the next level was very evident in 2016. The private equity and venture capital’s consistent interest in funding healthcare companies shows the opportunity that the sector offers with its demand, supply equation. More than $400 million (Rs 2,640 crore) of capital was deployed in healthcare in 2016.

The Indian healthcare startup space continues to show traction guided by disruptive thinking in new healthcare delivery models, technology-enabled online healthcare services, medtech and diagnostics created an opportunity for 73 companies to receive $113.45 million in funding.

With an allocation of just Rs 33,000 crore in Union Budget 2016 — an increase in health allocation of 13 per cent over past year, the government is expected to do a lot more to cover the significant supply gap in healthcare services. India requires 6 lakh-7 lakh additional beds over the next 5-6 years, indicative of an investment of $25 billion-30 billion. This raises the big question around accessible and affordable healthcare, the socio-economic determinants of health, affordable insurance, healthcare reforms and governance in healthcare delivery as a set of challenges for the government to deal.

The healthcare sector in India is being increasingly invaded by startups, which have seized the digital high ground and created new customer-centric models of healthcare delivery. Welcome to the world of engaged, aware and empowered healthcare consumer.

While India continues to grapple with the basics and vector-borne diseases threaten many lives, it is transformative market forces, coupled with advances in digital technologies that are placing consumers at the centre of an increasingly virtualised, personalised and delocalised healthcare system. Smac technologies namely social networks, mobility, analytics and cloud computing along with AI and Internet of things positioned in the hands of the healthcare consumer will permanently change the contours of the sector. Proliferation of mobile health apps and remote patient monitoring technologies are resulting in virtual and delocalised care delivery models. As we have seen in other industries, the end result will be a radically transformed consumer-centric model. As a result of this anticipated disruption in the healthcare sector, an unprecedented number of new entrants are being backed by venture capital to pace the change.

The combined effects of consumerism, value, quality driven care and digital technologies — from apps to wearables —are giving rise to new healthcare delivery services and diagnostics. The incumbent healthcare stakeholders are being forced to rethink their business models. The startup consumer healthcare services and technology companies in India have received more than $338 million in invesments in diverse services and technologies ranging from ophthalmology technology company, practice management system for doctors, online optical store, online patient to doctors connect, the online pharmacy, speciality home healthcare service provider, genetic sequencing data analytics provider, and more.

The healthcare industry has been slower than most to digitise its data sets and historically most data has been proprietary to providers. However, startups that are focused on electronic medical records will make high quality health information available to consumers.

The super convergence of market and technology forces is now under way setting up a perfect storm and enabling a completely new healthcare delivery ecosystem, which should help India deal more effectively with its twin challenge of both communicable and non-communicable diseases. India healthcare: Version 2.0 is on the right course for 2017.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Vishal Bali

Vishal Bali is co-founder and chairman of Medwell Ventures and former CEO of Fortis Healthcare Ltd

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