Sectors such as healthcare need over investment in India, say experts
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people perceive their health and access healthcare. As the highly infectious disease made a number of people across the world sick and also claimed lives, people realised the importance of staying healthy and taking preventive care to avoid the disease.
As people locked themselves in their houses to avoid contracting the virus, healthcare moved online, opening up a door of tech opportunities in the sector for both public and private organisations.
At YourStory’s flagship startup-tech event TechSparks 2021, a panel discussion on the topic ‘Healthtech in India: The new frontier’, experts from the healthcare sector said the pandemic has accelerated innovation in the sector.
Swapna Gupta, Director, Qualcomm Ventures, explained that two main areas, i.e., health and education, were earlier not digitised enough, but the pandemic bolstered digital disruption in these sectors.
“Some areas in India were not digitised enough, and two main areas I noticed were healthtech and education, but the pandemic has been a great boon in that sense. This whole move from offline to online is unprecedented. If you look at how the infrastructure crumbled all around us, I think one thing which was really going during this tough time was the fact that there was enough and more digital things at your disposal to figure out how the world is changing. That has given this whole slew of plethora of startups, who now know that for the new world order which is emerging and will emerge over the next 10 years, you need to work on thinking of a digital consumer, you need to think about remote. You need to think about customer service first,” said Swapna.
Opportunity in healthtech
With the increased adoption of digital health services by both doctors and consumers, the segment has gained increased investor interest. Anup Jain, Managing Partner, Orios Venture Partners, believes there will be another unicorn in the healthtech sector soon.
“Health and education are two areas where India needs to over invest in the coming years as it is a starved sector, and it will definitely uplift the country. These are two things which are very essential for any country to transform itself from developing to developed. We should see a whole lot of funding coming into this sector, into specific spaces, which are large, ambient, and have not seen solutions,” he added.
Dr Ramesh Byrapaneni, Partner, Endiya Partners, said, that amid the pandemic, Indian science got recognition across the world. He said that vaccines, medical devices, point-of-care, etc., are gaining recognition.
He added that the acceptance of a digital world among the patients and healthcare providers, the government fast-tracking growth in the sector, and the Indian science speeding up are the three great impacts of the pandemic on healthcare and digital health.
Not only funding, but the healthtech sector also saw increased acquisition deals post-pandemic. Anup explained the players, mainly in the offline health space, will look at M&A opportunities to enter the digital ecosystem.
“Companies are yet to become large in the healthtech space. I certainly think telemedicine has reached an inflection point and there is certainly a habit change with consumers and with doctors,” he added.
Not only private players, but the government is also looking at innovative solutions to accelerate growth in the healthtech sector.
“The government is helping in a big way. The entire COVID-19 vaccination was carried out in an exemplary fashion. Never have we seen a digital booking engine with records being made available, through an OTP, which one can easily share and use it anywhere. It has created a virtual record of every Indian in the country,” Anup said.
In September this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM). Under this, every citizen will get a digital health ID that will record and protect health records.
The stakeholders unanimously agree that the initiative will help boost transformation in the healthcare sector in India.
According to Dr Ramesh, the way the launch of UPI boosted innovation in the finance sector in India, he believes that the launch of digital health mission will similarly boost the health sector in the country.
“Every patient will have universal health ID... So when you go to a diagnostic center, to a hospital, or a pharmacy, that digital footprint will be there and I think that would be a great initiative,” he added.
Dr Ramesh also explained that amid the pandemic, the government and regulatory bodies also realised the need to fast-track approvals. He explained that while some of these initiatives might take time, once implemented, they will be beneficial for patients, entrepreneurs, and also established players.
“I think there is no better time for entrepreneurs who want to start up -- whether in educational or healthcare sector, I think this is the right time,” he added.
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