TechSparks 2019: Experts discuss how technology is disrupting healthtech in India
In a panel discussion at the 10th edition of YourStory's TechSparks, experts from the healthcare sector discussed how technology can enable better care and diagnosis for people who don’t have access to doctors.
The healthtech sector is maturing faster than ever – more and more customers are enquiring about their health, online.
At the 10th edition of YourStory’s flagship event TechSparks, the who’s who of healthtech sector from the Indian startup ecosystem got together to dissect India’s ‘Disruptive HealthTech Space'.
The panel session was moderated by Anjana Sasidharan, Principal, Sequoia, with three successful entrepreneurs in the healthtech space including Pooja Rao, Head of Research and Development, Qure.ai; Gaurav Agarwal, Cofounder of 1Mg; and Jyotsna Pattabiraman, Founder and CEO of Grow Fit.
“We find young people getting more concerned about their wellness. We are also seeing the government taking strides to improve access to healthcare in the country,” said Anjana.
Qure.ai is a Mumbai-based healthtech startup led by Pooja, a doctor and data scientist. The startup aims to make diagnostic imaging like X-rays and MRIs affordable and accessible. Grow Fit is a mobile health companion that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help its users achieve their peak wellness.
1Mg provides for a wide range of healthcare services, including the delivery of prescription medicines, doctors’ appointment, diagnostic service, Ayurveda products, and also homeopathic medicines.
“What’s exciting about where healthtech has reached today in India is the amount of funding coming into this sector. What was $400 to $500 million in 2016 has more than doubled in the last couple of years. And most importantly, the fact that the quality of founders chasing this large opportunity has dramatically changed,” Anjana said.
However, with the intervention of technology, there is much anticipation about whether technology will take up the jobs of doctors.
“People and doctors are asking the wrong question. At least in the Indian perspective. There is one radiologist for 100,000 people. So, the question is, how can we get better care and diagnosis for people who don’t have a doctor,” said Pooja.
There is a gap between the rising demand and supply for healthcare, and on the other hand, it takes five and a half plus, and another three years to train a new doctor.
Qure.ai addresses the need for affordable and accessible diagnostics using deep learning technology. Their algorithm helps doctors and radiology centres be more efficient and accurate with their diagnosis.
Talking about the challenges, Gaurav said that 1Mg did not wish to become a telemedicine company.
“We believed that for a healthcare consumer, all of these services should come together in a seamless fashion. For us, that was the toughest part of execution,” he added.
Secondly, it is a challenge initially to build a business without continuously burning money. However, over time, it gets challenging to grow the business while improving the bottom line. Gaurav said that 85 percent people, for instance, are not taking the medicines or following their diet or getting that test done. And 1Mg has been trying to understand the human psyche and how to reduce friction in a patient wanting to get better.
"Data science is incredibly important for consultations. We use it for disease progression and disease prediction," he said
Bengaluru-based Grow Fit uses a combination of data-science, medical science, and behavioural insights to help its users achieve peak wellness. Jyotsna said that for her company, the first challenge was building a team quickly and executing operations. The next challenge was working around technology to improve operations and consumer experiences.
“Predicting the future is difficult. Health is an emotional experience. You cannot have one healthy meal and be done with it – health has to be present in every stage of life,” she said.
Anjana concluded the session by saying that the extent of inefficiency globally in the healthcare sector is so immense that even small changes drive massive value. "We deeply believe in businesses across oncology, wellness, fitness, diagnostics, and so on. We see a lot of potential here and we think the time of health is now," she said.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)
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