India is ‘the’ land of opportunities when it comes to favoring startups since eons. Anyone with a vision and a will to do has always been recognized. The tag ‘The Golden Bird’ is still applicable. From Agriculture to Aerospace, and from Defense to IoT, the Indian startup ecosystem has made a mark worldwide.
Healthcare is one of India’s largest sectors - both in terms of revenue and employment. The US healthcare industry share is around 18% compared to India’s 4%. Healthcare comprises of hospitals, medical devices, clinical trials, outsourcing, telemedicine, medical tourism, health insurance and medical equipment the overall Indian healthcare market is worth around US$ 100 billion and is expected to grow to US$ 280 billion by 2020, a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 22.9 per cent. The Healthcare Information Technology (IT) market which is valued at US$ 1 billion currently is expected to grow 1.5 times by 2020.
The Indian healthcare sector is growing at a brisk pace due to its strengthening coverage, services and increasing expenditure by public as well as private players. This clearly indicates that the Indian market is in a vacuum that needs to be filled by more healthcare startups that will support our nation’s health.
India's competitive advantage lies in its large pool of well-trained medical professionals. Also, India is cost competitive compared to its peers in Asia and Western countries. The cost of surgery in India is about 10% of that in the US or Western Europe. 8 out of 10 antiretroviral drugs used worldwide to battle AIDS are provided by Indian pharmaceutical firms. The scope for enhancing healthcare services considering that healthcare spending as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rising is significant. Rural India, which accounts for over 70 per cent of the population, is a potential demand source.
India is amidst its own industrial revolution of sorts, wherein the government is encouraging start-ups with straightforward policies and relaxed regulations, which will promote the medical devices industry to encourage local manufacturing and move towards improving affordability for patients. Steps taken towards modifying the existing drugs and cosmetics act will also benefit the end user with overall reduced costs. New initiatives taken to set up 1.5 lakh wellness centers in villages is a sure shot sign of encouragement. The bonanza came in as the National Health Policy 2017 which has promised a healthier India to come.
India's gain resides in the success rate of Indian firms getting the ‘Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA)’ approvals. India also offers vast opportunities in R&D as well as medical tourism. To sum up, there are vast opportunities for investment in healthcare infrastructure in both urban and rural India, success is defined only with the culmination of technologies to make a seamless environment. With major investments pouring in from Max Healthcare, OrbiMed, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Abraaj Group, and Kapil Khandelwal’s Toro Finsrer LLP, successful companies such as Practo, SigTuple, 1mg et al. are seeing the limelight.
India has humongous needs; it requires 6 to 7 Lakh extra beds over the next five to six years to meet the demands of the growing populous. Centralization of medical equipment needs to be addressed as well, emergence of industries such as Healthtech and IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) must fill the gaps left by an unbalanced past environment. With a vast population at hand and a complementing lack of supportive tools, the population needs devices and ecosystems that can help monitor their data to present it to a health care expert, real time. Initiatives like plans to set up a single window approval system for innovation in medical research and 'Sehat' (Social Endeavour for Health and Telemedicine) launched by Common Service Centre (CSC) to empower rural citizens by providing access to information, knowledge, skills and other services in various sectors through the intervention of digital technologies and fulfilling the vision of a ‘Digital India’.
Need of the hour is to have startups take charge of the situation and forcefully emerge into this sector. Startups have the responsibility of bearing the torch and to lead with disruptive businesses in healthcare. With the emerging investments and a plethora of encouraging policies from the government, a healthy competition between umpteen number of startups will only offer cost-effective problem based solutions in bulk for a mammoth of a country like ours. In our backyard Hyderabad, companies like Medplus, Call health, Smiline, Nefroplus et al, have proved that the market was ready to imbibe a disruptive model. With the right information and mentoring from experts, the chance of being a successful enterprise is more than real and what lies beyond is benefiting to the economy and its populous only to fulfill the promise of a healthy and wealthy India.