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New Delhi: The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc not only on human health but also on the global economy. However, for health tech startups in India, the Covid-induced lockdowns and social distancing has proven to be a blessing in disguise and an engine of growth.

The pandemic has exposed the gaps in the health sector. In India, the crumbling health infrastructure has been laid bare – poor hospital infrastructure, acute shortage of doctors, nurses and specialized treatment equipment and facilities, especially in primary health care centers , in rural areas.

The growing gap between the number of healthcare providers and the number of patients has underscored the role of digital technology in making healthcare available, accessible and affordable to as many people as possible.

Additionally, with the pandemic propelling increased acceptance for online drug delivery, remote patient monitoring, digital health, and telehealth, healthcare startups have started to take hold.

According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) -Praxis Global Alliance, in 2020 India’s healthcare technology industry was worth around $ 1.9 billion, or less than 1% of the healthcare sector. With more than 5,000 health tech startups, it is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39% to reach $ 5 billion by 2023.

“Traditionally, a high incubation time, a longer time-to-market strategy, and high barriers to entry have made the healthcare industry one of the most difficult industries for startups. have changed dramatically over the past two years and have catapulted the market 5-8 years to come, ”Mudit Dandwate, CEO and Co-Founder of Dozee, told IANS.

The Bengaluru-based startup is a contactless patient vital signs monitoring and early warning system that converts any bed into a step-down intensive care unit at a fraction of the cost.

“The past two years have been a turning point for India’s health technology industry. The Covid-19 pandemic has been an unexpected catalyst that has pushed the government as well as consumers beyond the tipping point, ”added Prasad Kompalli, CEO and co-founder. , MFine – an on-demand AI-powered healthcare solution.

Government health mission policies, such as Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), e-Hospitals and the eSanjeevani telemedicine service, have also given health tech startups a boost.

Startups focusing on online drug delivery, tele-consultation, and technology solutions for doctors and hospitals and other healthcare providers have gained traction over the past two years.

These include e-pharmacies like SastaSundar from Flipkart; 1MG from the Tata group; and Netmeds from Reliance Retail; and Niramai AI-based diagnostic technology; the fitness providers HealthifyMe and CureFit; and telemedicine providers such as Practo, Lybrate, and DocsApp, among others.

“The Covid-19 epidemic has been a huge red flag for the Indian health system. From providing innovative healthcare equipment to facilitating effective patient care, healthcare technology startups in the country are evolving dramatically, ”Satish Kannan, Co-Founder and CEO of MediBuddy, said IANS.

MediBuddy is a digital healthcare platform for inpatient, outpatient, wellness and fitness needs.

Can the growth achieved by health tech startups during the pandemic be sustained in the future?

According to Pavan Choudary, President of the Medical Technology Association of India (MTaI), as startups find acceptability of their healthcare offerings in the market, one of the most crucial factors for their sustainability and growth is maintaining the quality of products and services.

“Startups should seek to comply with globally harmonized certifications such as USFDA, CE which give them the quality mark and also allow them to find greater acceptability of their products in global markets. It will also strengthen the image of ‘Brand India’, “he said.

In addition, the adoption of “more tech-driven, AI / machine learning-driven business models will help consumers achieve even faster and better care delivery” and contribute to the next wave of growth, Kompalli added.

A report by consultancy firm RBSA Advisors said online pharmacies were the largest segment of India’s healthcare technology market in 2020 with revenue of $ 700 million, followed by the healthcare technology market. B2B healthcare ($ 60.2 million), B2B medical supplies ($ 28.8 million), other health technology services ($ 100 million), electronic diagnostics ($ 70 million) and teleconsultation ($ 45 million).

Vivek Tiwari, CEO and founder of health technology platform Medikabazaar, said that to support growth, the health technology industry should not only target personal health and wellness, “but also strengthen the medical infrastructure, providing a more efficient response to emergency care. and close the delivery gap between level I and level II, III and IV cities ”.

Technology to improve outpatient care for patients and optimize consultation time for physicians, along with improved on-demand pathology diagnostics and accessibility to home health services may also be the way forward, noted industry players.

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Posted on: Tuesday, December 14, 2021, 7:00 a.m. IST