A global health emergency like the coronavirus always shines a big spotlight on the healthcare industry, with every stakeholder fighting from the frontline. The pandemic has been called a structural shift for digital healthcare in many countries, including in India. Many have said that this is the time for India to reboot healthcare and support healthtech startups in closing the gaps in the traditional healthcare system.
With the telemedicine guidelines now in place and mandatory health insurance for workers, technology is well-placed to redefine healthcare infrastructure in India. Within two months, India transformed from importing PPE kits to the second-largest producer in the world.
In the new normal, India is poised to witness more such significant advancements in the traditional healthcare system. The development in Indian healthcare infrastructure will be led by homegrown healthtech startups, with telemedicine and online pharmacies leading the current wave of startups. Together, the Indian healthtech market will contribute $21 Bn by 2025, which is still only 3.3% of the total addressable healthcare market which is pegged to reach $638 Bn in 2025. This indicates that the room for growth is pretty high and healthtech has a massive opportunity here.
Covid-19 Ushers In New Opportunities For Indian Healthtech Startups
Indian healthtech startups secured a total funding of $2.3 Bn between January 2014 and March 2020 spread across 459 deals. The lack of regulatory guidelines and shortage of tech-based healthcare infrastructure are some of the major factors behind the low funding in the healthtech industry. However, the government’s decision to release telemedicine guidelines early on during the lockdown has helped bring some much-needed clarity to this segment, at least. The same is awaited for online pharmacy startups as well. This is expected to attract more investors to invest in this sector. Regulatory guidelines in healthcare data and analytics will also help create more startups and innovation to improve healthcare quality and access.
Prominent telemedicine startups including myUpchar, Practo, Tattvan, Lybrate and mFine have witnessed around 3x jump with new users since the lockdown. Practo, which claims to be India’s largest digital healthcare platform has increased its doctor base by 50% in the past few months. Alexander Kuruvilla, chief health strategy officer at Practo had earlier told Inc42 that each general physician on their platform now consults around 100 patients, which is four times more than the usual volume.
The regulatory clarity has fueled businesses to create different focus areas. For Practo, the biggest increase in consultation comes from pediatric queries, which saw a hike of around 350% and next from gynaecology consultations which grew by 250%. DocsApp, which acquired MediBuddy during the lockdown, claims to have seen an average of 60% increase in consultations across various departments.
The rising awareness among consumers, healthcare providers and the government will fuel the macro healthtech trends in the coming quarters. The likes of Curefit, Practo, 1mg, PharmEasy, Netmeds and others have led the healthtech ecosystem when it comes to funding. Bengaluru’s healthtech ecosystem helped it become the top hub when it comes to funding amount as well as the number of deals.
Preventive Healthcare Is The Need Of The Hour
Modern-day urban lifestyles have led to rising incidence of life-threatening diseases like cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, cancer and diabetes. The number of cases has grown for diabetes (3.18%), cardiovascular diseases (47.94%), hypertension (10.51%), stroke (46.24%) and common cancers (324.18%) from 2017 to 2018, as per NCD data.
This is largely attributed to irregular and unhealthy diets, high alcohol consumption, smoking, substance abuse and lack of physical exercise in the urban population. However, the coronavirus pandemic has brought a renewed focus on healthy lifestyle habits and diet, which is expected to boost the adoption of preventive healthcare solutions.
The preventive healthcare market in India is expected to reach $170 Bn by 2025, primarily driven by fitness and wellness apps, and the diagnostics and therapeutics sub-segments. The trend of joining fitness centres and maintaining a healthy diet trend is increasing in urban areas along with the adoption of fitness and yoga apps.
The rising cost of medical treatment is luring consumers to buy health insurance plans. The mandatory health insurance announcement by the government for workers will witness a sudden rise in the health insurance market. The positive response from Indian SMBs and MSMEs will accelerate mandatory health insurance adoption in India.
The Covid-19 has shown us the gaps in the traditional healthcare system in India. The mismanagement of the traditional healthcare system will increase the demand for a technology-based solution to increase the efficiency of the healthcare system. The Covid-19 outbreak is the wake-up call for the Indian healthcare system and it will act as positive momentum for healthtech startups to develop innovative products to ease the burden of providing healthcare services to India’s huge population. – Inc42