By Aneesh Nair
Healthcare has drastically evolved over the past decade in India. From affordable insurance, and easy access to doctors and medicines to the invention of tech-enabled life-savings treatments, quality of healthcare is growing by leaps and bounds – thanks to innovation and disruption offered by mushrooming health tech start-ups. What you see today is just a glimpse of what the future has in store!
According to research by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and Praxis Global Alliance, India’s health tech sector was valued at US$1.9 billion in 2020. This is set to grow at a CAGR of 39% to touch US$5 billion by 2023 and a staggering US$50 billion by 2033, according to RBSA Advisors. With almost 7500 health tech start-ups in India currently fuelling growth, and thousands more that will take seed in the coming few years, the state of healthcare in India looks very promising.
These start-ups offer innovative solutions across verticals such as telemedicine, e-pharmacies, diagnostics, digital transformation, mental health monitoring, fitness and wellness, and more. Let’s take a look at some of the fundamental ways health tech start-ups are changing the health and wellbeing landscape.
Improving access to healthcare facilities
One of the biggest impacts of health tech start-ups, especially critical for a country such as India, is the democratisation of healthcare. Enabled by the latest technology and connectivity solutions, they are providing access to people who earlier didn’t have any. With the help of telemedicine and teleconsultation, people even in tier II, tier III cities and rural areas can now consult specialists and take advantage of the best healthcare facilities. The telemedicine market is expected to account for US$5.5 billion by 2025, reveals an EY-IPA study.
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Enabling accuracy for better patient outcomes
Not just access, healthtech start-ups are the catalyst in driving accuracy and elevated patient outcomes. Digitisation of health records, data mining and banking on data analytics are offering healthcare providers insights into clinical data, facilitating informed decision-making about diagnosis and helping them provide the right treatment at the right time. Additionally, the use of robotics is transforming how surgeries are performed by ensuring the highest levels of accuracy, enabling lab automation, training doctors and trauma responders, and more.
Boosting the efficiency of healthcare providers
Transformative solutions leveraging technologies such as AI and ML are helping automate manual processes. This is not only cutting down the time for said processes, but it is also eliminating human error and freeing the time of healthcare professionals to focus on more mission-critical functions. Moreover, digital care ecosystems offered by healthtech start-ups for doctors and hospitals are enabling streamlining of operations, taking care of booking appointments, monitoring patients, administrative functions, procurement processes, patient engagement, and more.
Designing novel treatments
Healthtech start-ups are also rapidly growing in the field of genomics and biotech. We are now seeing disruptive use cases of the same in diagnosing diseases more personally and treating them more precisely. These technologies are also facilitating the DNA study of patients and predicting diseases they could be susceptible to. This way preventive care can be taken and patients can avoid critical illnesses altogether. Moreover, by using AI, digital twin, etc. these emerging companies are helping design personalised, cutting-edge treatments.
Making diagnostics affordable
Another big leap has been in the area of diagnostics. Healthtech start-ups are now making tests such as blood sugar, kidney function, liver function, lipid profile, etc. extremely economical. What would earlier cost thousands of Rupees is now available for a few hundreds. This is helping patients conduct regular check-ups, take corrective measures, and stay on top of their health. Additionally, e-pharmacies are making medicines affordable and helping manage chronic diseases and long-term ailments. With fast gaining popularity, FICCI predicts that e-pharmacies will cater to 70 million Indian households by 2025.
Monitoring and leading healthier lives
Wearables or IoT (Internet of Things) devices such as smartwatches, fitness trackers, ECG monitors, blood pressure monitors, biosensors, etc. are empowering people to take charge of their lives by monitoring their health constantly and keeping track of their vitals. India is seeing fast-paced adoption of wearables, with the market growing 144% year-over-year in 2020, as per a report by IDC. Besides, IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) devices and applications are connecting healthcare systems by enabling machine-to-machine communication. These devices can also send the user’s information to their doctors in real-time, further ensuring timely intervention, if required.
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While the healthcare industry has taken giant leaps forward, it looks like we have only scratched the surface. With the invention of newer technologies and many more disruptive use cases, vaccines for dangerous viruses, treatments for critical illnesses, early diagnosis for genetic disorders, treatments for mental conditions, and more, all seem within reach. Fuelled by passionate healthtech founders and strong investors, the future of healthcare in India seems bright indeed.
(The author is the CIO, Co-Founder of MyHealthcare. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)