Budget 2021: Opportunities for healthtech startups in India
The coronavirus pandemic left the country in shock, not just emotionally but financially as well. The deadly virus spread like wildfire with poor healthcare infrastructure in place. Hospitals experienced acute shortage of ventilators, PPE kits, beds, and other critical equipment.
Without a doubt, India’s healthcare system was unprepared to handle the pandemic that led the country to a nationwide lockdown and subsequent phases of unlock to recoup from the financial loss it had suffered.
Budget 2021, announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, saw increased spending on healthcare – a total of Rs. 2 lakh crores.
It was expected that the government will place more emphasis on healthcare, as the pandemic was akin to a wake-up call for every industry that is affected/influenced by healthcare such as FMCG, Wellness, Finance, and beyond. It was also an opportunity for tech-driven companies in the healthcare space to innovate and curate solutions to support healthcare.
With India having around 3225 startups that focus on healthtech, it is one of the fastest-growing sectors. And these startups proved their mettle by enabling people to avail online consultations, treatments and have medicines and nutritional supplements delivered to their doorstep while ensuring hygiene and safety during the lockdown.
In fact, the Government of India also leveraged the potential of digital healthcare with the Aarogya Setu app, to help people self-assess themselves for coronavirus.
So, while healthcare gets the due it asked for, it opens a plethora of opportunities in the healthtech space, as any innovation is likely to get an immediate nod from the government, or atleast, there would be fewer bottlenecks to bring something fresh to the market.
Let us look at a few opportunities that are likely to open for health-tech space:
Technology-driven healthcare solutions are here to stay
With an imbalanced ratio of medical specialists to patients in the country, startups that focus on easing access to healthcare resources carry massive opportunities to grow.
Private-public partnership projects on the cards
The country saw Bharat Biotech collaborating with ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) to develop COVAXIN – India’s indigenous COVID-19 vaccine. It further looks forward to similar collaborations between healthtech startups and government institutes to unlock combined potentials. T
his will also help private startups get access to the resources and capital they would otherwise find difficult to touch.
The sky is the limit for healthcare e-commerce
Startups operating in healthcare through ecommerce have the best times to come. It is not only because of the convenience of doorstep delivery of healthcare supplements, but also due to people’s increasing affinity towards preventive health, which can be conveniently fulfilled by shopping through online channels.
Telemedicine is more likely to grow
As a solution to increase consumer reach to high-quality doctors and experts for remote diagnosis, general prescription, and even treatment of patients, there are opportunities galore for telemedicine.
All smiles for fitness apps
Fitness apps that track heart rate, movements, sleep patterns, and the steps we walk have started to pick up in the market more than ever before. These apps carry the potential to improve comprehensive wellbeing of the country.
Holistic wellness via digital classes
Brands such as Nike and Curefit have successfully been able to leverage technology to encourage and engage people of all ages to practice yoga, meditation, physical activities and more, for overall holistic wellness and growth.
Considering the given situation, the 2021 budget is expected to play a crucial role in providing a funds buffer that will help manage the spread of COVID-19 in the country. With the funds that have been set-aside, the government is all set to reach out to billions of people with the coronavirus vaccine.
A robust healthcare infrastructure at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels for the upliftment of people in the country is also on the roadmap.
For YourStory's multimedia coverage of Budget 2021, visit YourStory's Budget 2021 page or budget.yourstory.com.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)