Top 5 challenges plaguing healthcare entrepreneurs, and the way forward
The healthcare industry is booming at a rapid pace fuelled by growing urbanisation, increasing health consciousness, increasing expenditure by the government as well as private players. The segment is slated to increase to $ 372 billion by 2022 (according to India Brand Equity Foundation).
Of late, recent innovations by young entrepreneurs have disrupted the segment, leading to more convenience, on-the-go services, and ease of access to end users. For instance, the proliferation of healthcare apps, online appointment service, and telemedicine has led to a paradigm shift in the healthcare sector.
However, there are numerous challenges that have been a roadblock on the highway of success. It’s necessary to understand these challenges and come up with viable solutions.
1. Difficulty in devising affordable solutions
This is a significant challenge in the healthcare segment. In a country where healthcare accounts for less than three percent of GDP and leads to a major out-of-pocket expenditure for the common populace, devising low-cost and easily accessible solutions is the need of the hour.
This calls for investment in solutions such as low-cost diagnostic kits, low-cost dialysis technology, cheaper sanitary napkins, among others. The role of venture capital for financing enterprises that make the most of design, data, and even growth hacking to maximise technological outcomes in the development phase will be significant here. Of equal importance is a sustainable and scalable business model that is focused on long-term sustainability rather than windfall gains in the short run.
2. Capital-intensive and high technological upgradation cost
A flourishing modern healthcare ecosystem underscores the need of technology penetration and adoption. World-class technology is the answer to the issues plaguing the Indian healthcare industry like quality and reach. However, massive investment in technology and exorbitant expenditure in its regular maintenance might not be possible for SMEs. The key here is to cooperate and collaborate with established players.
As a novice to the scene, founders must assess the risks and merits of cooperation before making such a decision. Of late, the sector has caught investors’ attention, and industry experts’ forecast of returns of up to 35-40 percent by 2020 will come as a breather for healthcare entrepreneurs.
3. Lack of adequate skilled workforce in the industry
Any discussion on healthcare delivery should include arguably the most central of the characters involved – the human workforce. Though the sector is expected to generate 40 million jobs by 2020, the deployment of a trained workforce with a high retention rate is imperative for this sector. There is a need for an agile workforce to be responsive to exigencies and changing demographic profile of the population.
The Indian government has undertaken various initiatives to skill the population through a multi-pronged approach.
Encouraging inter-sectoral mobility will be a feather in the cap for skilling the youth. Retention is another aspect that needs to be looked at. Corporations should adopt a lifecycle approach to upskill their existing workforce.
4. Data-driven privacy issues
As digital technology continues to revolutionise various sectors, no segment has to face more complexity than healthcare in the gathering, treatment, and analysis of an almost infinite amount of data. This vast amount of data poses the twin risks of security and privacy.
The digital transformation of personal health information is potentially dangerous. Moreover, the chances of software disruption and modern-day cyber-crimes such as hacking and phishing cannot be overlooked. Hence, healthcare firms need to put in place a comprehensive safeguard mechanism to maintain ethicality.
5. Lack of safety compliances and protocols
The medical devices market in India is pegged at over $15 billion and is projected to grow to $50 billion by 2025. Ensuring medical device compliance is critical for manufacturers. A Herculean challenge is to comply with various regulations in the sector.
Patient safety is a more complex issue in the case of devices being a shared responsibility of the manufacturer, medical practitioners, product user, and the regulator. Medical devices manufacturers need to be fully abreast of legal requirements and understand the significance of regular technical audits and upgradation.
The proposed medical devices legislation will be a step forward in providing a much-needed framework for the healthcare sector and compensate patients facing health problems due to faulty implants or medical devices.
The healthcare startups are burgeoning at an exponential rate in India. The fact of the increasing number of investors eyeing the segment coupled with the proliferation of technology opens up vast avenues in the sector. The journey ahead might be daunting but undoubtedly worth in the long run.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)
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