While technology has touched nearly every aspect of lifestyle in the urban context in India today, there’s a long way to go before India can match up to the technologically-advanced cities in the Western world, as it enters the Age of Startups. There’s been great progress in the past decade in logistics, ecommerce and online consumer services, but one area that’s lagging behind considerably is healthcare. While there are a number of healthtech startups in the Indian ecosystem, the scope of these startups is usually very narrow.
With technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) ushering in Industry 4.0, machine intelligence has impacted all major industries from agriculture, to recruitment, to entertainment, transport, and a lot more.
Due to the lack of expert healthcare professionals, the healthcare industry offers a huge opportunity for AI to enable faster and efficient healthcare delivery. Most startups in India are focussed on improving access to healthcare and critical care. This is the biggest need at the moment. According to the available statistics, over 45% of WHO Member States have less than 1 physician per 1000 people.
Further, in India doctor to patient ratio in the allopathy sector stands at 1:1596 (far lower than the 1:1400 WHO standard) and the country is ranked 145 among 195 countries on the healthcare index. This goes on to show the huge potential lying in front of healthtech startups in the 1.3 Bn-plus people economy.
Healthcare industry in India is said to be one of the fastest growing sectors backed by India’s rising income, health awareness, and access to insurance, but also due to the increase in lifestyle and stress-related diseases. The IBEF has estimated the Indian healthcare market to be valued at $372Bn by 2022.
The Indian government has also contributed to improving access to healthcare growth with policies such as Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), which promised to provide health insurance worth INR 500K ($ 7.1k) to over 100 Mn families annually.
Healthtech Startups In India: Funding And Models
According to Inc42’s The State of Startup Ecosystem Report 2018, there are a total of 4,892 startups in the Indian healthtech space. Last year saw an overall increase of 45.06% in the total investments in healthtech startups. Overall, the healthtech startups in India raised a total of $504 Mn between 2014-2018.
While sector analysis clubs all startups in this space under one classification, the truth is that healthcare is possibly the most varied sector out there. In many ways, it mirrors the breadth of the pre-digital healthcare system, which had a lot of moving parts. This breadth and variety of services, products and offerings makes healthcare one of the most challenging aspects of the economy and this is reflected in the glacial pace of development, when you look at each individual vertical within healthcare.
These healthtech startups can be broadly classified under 11 categories including online pharmacy, telemedicine, personal health management, home healthcare, fitness & wellness, diagnostics, biotech R&D, medical devices, healthcare IT, biopharma and genomics. Within India, startups are operating in one of these verticals and are using AI, ML and other modern technology to improve access, affordability and quality of health care.
Healthtech Startups In India: Telemedicine
Telemedicine startups essentially help patients get doctor consultations virtually through apps or web-based videos, chats and voice guidance. Generally, these startups are focussed on solving the lack of specialised doctors in Tier 2 and Tier 3 Indian cities.
According to Mckinsey report, India could save up to $10 Bn in 2025, by using telemedicine instead of in-person doctor consultations. Prominent telemedicine startups in India include Practo, Lybrate, and Docsapp.
In early 2017, Bengaluru-based Practo had raised $55 Mn Series D funding round led by Chinese conglomerate Tencent. With this round, the company is estimated to have raised about $179 Mn in total funding from a list of investors including Sofina, Sequoia India, Google Capital, Matrix Partners, and more. Practo was included in the Inc42’s soonicorns list in The State Of The Indian Startup Ecosystem Report 2018.
While Delhi-based Lybrate had raised $10.2 Mn in Series A funding from Tiger Global Management, Ratan Tata and existing investor Nexus Venture Partners in 2015. Later in 2017, company was reported to have raised another $3Mn from undisclosed investors.
Meanwhile, Bengaluru-based DocsApp has raised $1.6Mn from a venture debt lending firm InnoVen Capital earlier this month. With the latest funding, DocsApp has so far raised a total of $10 Mn from investors such as Bessemer Venture Partners and Japanese investment firms Techmatrix Corporation and DeNa Networks. DocsApp was part of the Inc42’s Healthcare Startup Watchlist of 2019.
Healthtech Startups In India: Online Pharmacy
Simply put these startups are ecommerce sites but only deal with medicines and medical Also known as epharmacy, this segment has players such as 1MG, Pharmeasy, Netmeds, MyraMed and SastaSr.
According to a 2018 Research and Markets report, India currently has over 850K independent pharmacy retail stores but they are able to meet only 60% of the total demand. This highlights the huge untapped market opportunity for epharmacy startups in India. The report estimatedthe online pharmacy space will grow at a CAGR of over 20%, to reach the $3 Bn mark by 2024.
The epharmacy space has been able to garner attention from marquee investors such as Sequoia Capital, Kae Capital, Eight Roads Ventures India, and Nandan Nilekani-backed Fundamentum Advisors.
According to Inc42 Datalabs, 1MG has raised a total funding of $97.4Mn across its five funding rounds till now. While, Pharmeasy raised $108Mn over six rounds and Netmeds raised $99.3 Mn across four funding deals. Sofina-backed HealthKart, which is the parent company of 1MG, has raised $68.7Mn across five funding rounds.
Along with growing investor interest, epharmacy startups have also overcome protests and legal challenges by offline pharmacies and a subsequent High Court ban on their operations in 2018. However, the government later introduced draft regulation guidelines for the epharmacy segment to standardise the registration process, which has given more clarity to the businesses entering this space.
Healthtech Startups In India: Personal Health Management
Indians are getting more and more health consciousness thanks to increased awareness of health problems as well as fitness activities. This has also led to the rise of health advisory content aggregators such as MyUpchar and CureJoy, along with personal health tracking apps like Pregbuddy and Maya, which help women track periods and pregnancy.
Delhi-based myUpchar has raised a total funding of $5 Mn from Nexus Venture Partners, Omidyar Network, and Shunwei Capital in 2018. CureJoy too raised a comparative $5.5Mn over its two funding rounds, from investors such as Accel Partners.
Further, Maya has received funding from ex-Google VP Rajan Anandan before getting acquired by a women community startup SHEROES in January 2019. Meanwhile, Bengaluru-based PregBuddy had only raised an undisclosed seed round from Indian Angel Network (IAN) in 2018.
Healthtech Startups In India: Fitness And Wellness
Going beyond imparting health-related knowledge, India has also seen a rise in the number of fitness and nutrition startups with the likes of Fitternity, Cure.fit, HealthifyMe, GoQii, HealthKart along with mental health and wellness startups like Yourdost, and InnerHour. While they all adopt a different model – Cure.fit manages the entire fitness stack, while GoQii has a wearable device along with dedicated remote trainers – the ultimate objective is to get users working out, eating right and generally fit.
This month, Mumbai-based fitness discovery and booking startup Fitternity secured $4 Mn in a fresh funding round from consumer-focused venture fund Sixth Sense Ventures. It was closely followed by Cure.fit which raised a round of $75 Mn from Piramal Group’s Anand Piramal, Accel Growth, Kalaari Capital, and IDG Ventures India, earlier this month. This brings the total funding raised by Hrithik Roshan-backed Cure.fit to about $245 Mn.
Recently last month, another Mumbai-based fitness startup SARVA had raised about $6 Mn – $8 Mn from celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, American baseball player Alex Rodriguez, Indian actress Malaika Arora, and along with fitness brand Zumba. SARVA provide its users access to yoga, mindfulness and wellness solutions through two approaches – physical and digital. The physical or offline approach includes the company’s state-of-the-art brick and mortar studios and lifestyle products, backed by the accessible and interactive digital platform.
At present, the overall fitness market in India is valued at $3 Bn and is said to be growing at 18%, with a mere 4% of the market comprising of organised gym chains or digital fitness startups. But workouts and fitness activities are just two aspects of overall health and fitness. Many startups such as Cure.fit vertical Mind.fit, Yourper, Headspace are focussing on mental wellness as well.
On the wellness end of the spectrum. Mumbai-based online psychological wellness platform InnerHour had raised $450K in its first round of funding from financial advisory firm Batlivala & Karani Securities, investment firm Venture Works and others. Bengaluru-based YourDOST, had raised $1 Mn in Pre Series A funding from venture capital firm SAIF Partners and others in 2016. With this, the startup had raised a total of $1.2 Mn funding.
But the mental wellness segment is currently under-addressed in the Indian context, with only a handful of startups using technology to disrupt the market. According to WHO estimates, India’s burden of mental health problems is massive at the moment. For every 100K people, the organisation found 2400 disability-adjusted life years. This means among the lifetime of every grouping of 1 Lakh in the population, 2400 years cumulatively are spent managing mental disability or trauma.
Healthtech Startups In India: Home Healthcare
One of the biggest pitfalls in the traditional healthcare system in India is the lack of access to adequate and critical care for many patients, especially those outside the metros and Tier 1 cities. Many healthtech startups are solving this by bringing healthcare services to the homes of patients. India’s home healthcare segment has actually evolved from simple tests to elderly care, oncology or cancer support, at-home doctor consultations, pathological tests sample collection and report delivery, physiotherapy sessions, home nursing and more.
Some startups operating in this space include Gurugram-based Healthians backed by cricketer Yuvraj Singh; CallHealth which has investors such as Times Group, Telugu actors Chiranjeevi Konidela and Nagarjuna Akkineni; Portea Medical and Healthcare At Home .
The IBEF has predicted the home healthcare market will reach US$6.21 Bn by next year. India is said to have the second largest geriatric population (above 60 years of age) in the world with 87.6 Mn people above the age of 60. Secondly, the busy lifestyle in urban cities has also contributed to the rise in home healthcare.- Inc42