Healthcare Startups – The way forward

The need to make quality and affordable healthcare accessible to the billion plus population of India has spawned a new breed of healthcare start-ups in the country. According to a joint study by FICCI and KPMG on inside look into funding in Indian healthcare start-ups, six to eight percent of investments in business to consumer (B2C) start-ups in India are made in the healthcare sector. This study looked at the role and need for healthcare start-ups in India, their evolution in the sector and funding scenario.

Superior outcomes in healthcare in India will be better achieved with innovations in medical practices and products. The urge is to get the private sector to give priority to innovation and best practices. The need of the hour is a unified approach for long term solutions that would help in optimizing disease care to preventive and promotive care as also patient centricity through data driven efficient technologies. Fostering start-ups and entrepreneurship will provide the requisite innovative approach for achieving these reforms.

As per NASSCOM startup ecosystem report 2015, India serves as the fastest growing start-up base globally. The sector has already secured ample traction from investors owing to its huge potential. FICCI – KPMG study reveals that start-ups can act as a much-needed facilitator to help approximately 70% of India’s rural population. Mobile and Internet platforms can be one of the means to address India’s deficient healthcare facilities. The private sector could play a crucial role in the growth and development of healthcare start – ups.

A report by allied market research has projected 32% CAGR in the healthcare market by 2020. The valuation of the market is projected to reach USD 58.8 billion by 2020. Due to the huge untapped demand in the Indian context for healthcare services the potential remains huge for healthcare apps in the country, for example there are apps for medical networking that enable communication between doctors. I have personal experience with using similar apps. They help collective thinking and informed decision making.

Healthcare apps are undergoing fundamental changes in the way they are disrupting the industry. There is a surge in the medical apps for doctors which are trying to add value to the professional life of doctors. In the future, the healthcare app where doctors will spend maximum time will be able to influence digital health communication as doctors are the gatekeepers of healthcare.

According to a report by Frost and Sullivan, India’s healthcare information technology market is expected to hit USD 1.45 billion in 2018 three-fold of what it was in 2012 at USD 382 million. Patient care experiences are top priority in the healthcare industry across the world. In India with technology and healthcare gradually merging there is a huge opportunity for providers to improve patient experience and operate more efficiently due to improved association and efficient information sharing among providers.

Using technology, quality healthcare services can reach the remotest rural parts of India which accounts for more than 70% of the population. Healthcare technology solutions will be able to modernize medical care reduce costs, avoid redundant or duplicate tests / procedures, and mechanize manual processes.

Technology enabled healthcare solutions and disruptive technology will show the way to improve patient care. Companies that focus on delivering the best services available by leveraging technologies, data analytics, automation and commercial models will bring change to India’s healthcare industry.

In India healthcare tends to be opaque and bureaucratic and there hasn’t been much innovation on the consumer front for a long time. However, with the advent of mobile technology and the Internet, this is rapidly changing and the consumer is taking center stage. The real change will come when a consumer becomes aware of and starts demanding quality healthcare.

We need to make healthcare understandable, accessible, affordable and authentic for consumers. There is a lot of information and data in healthcare which is difficult for consumers to understand. We must use technology and professional expertise to make this information simple for consumption.

The Government’s Startup India initiative which intends to bridge some of the challenges and provides an encouraging ecosystem for healthcare start-ups will be a boon for the healthcare sector. With the doctor patient ratio as low as 1:1700 , stumped penetration of healthcare in rural years and a low medically insured population, the potential for healthcare start-ups to emerge as a key member of the healthcare ecosystem is humongous .

(The opinions expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of 1Crowd.)

Author: Dr. Nirupa Bareja

About the author: Dr. Nirupa Bareja heads the Indian operations for Vicus Therapeutics, a US headquartered biotechnology and therapeutics company. She is also a Chief Advisor at the Mazumdar Shaw Medical Foundation, Bangalore and is on the scientific & technical advisory board of two innovative start-up companies – SigTuple & Aten Porous. Dr. Bareja is also a part of 1Crowd’s mentorship panel.

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