Senu Sam is a passionate entrepreneur, startup enthusiast and professional with extensive operational, marketing and management expertise in healthcare gained through working with some of the world’s largest healthcare companies. In a career spanning 12 years, Senu has responded to the day-to-day demands of his job with an entrepreneurial approach. He has managed large teams, led new initiatives, owned and turned around the challenges of the organizations he has been a part of.
India’s healthcare business is swiftly becoming one of the most significant, in terms of employment creation and income generation. Since 2016, it has grown at a CAGR of 22%, directly employing 4.7 million people. Between 2017 and 22 in India, the industry has the potential to create 2.7 million new employment opportunities – more than 500,000 new jobs every year.
Due to the immense scale and potential of this market, there are certain to be countless opportunities for learning and growth, as well as commercial engagement, for all stakeholders in Indian healthcare—associations, authorities, and organisations. In 2018, India had over 4800 healthcare startups, and this number is exploding and rising as we go along. The post COVID-19 world has also raised many questions on healthcare and the need for adequate healthcare facilities in a country teeming with billions.. This growth in the industry is primarily due to the following factors: an ageing population, a growing middle class, a rising proportion of lifestyle diseases, a greater emphasis on public-private partnerships, and accelerated adoption of digital technologies, including telemedicine, in addition to increased investor interest and FDI inflows over the last two decades.
Yet, the growing healthcare industry also faces benefits and challenges, and needs to be streamlined to be a more robust space giving healthcare start-ups the much needed growth leverage.
Some of the challenges the healthcare sector faces are:
- Lack of healthcare mentors in India : Healthcare in India is an ever evolving practice which is still growing to maturity. It needs mentors who can leave an enduring legacy and best practices for the next generation to follow. Therefore healthcare becomes a space of trial and error as many first generation entrepreneurs struggle with systems and processes to ensure seamless operations.
- Steep competition to navigate and reach out to the appropriate customer segment: India has a highly diversified healthcare structure which works really well in terms of public and private partnership. Yet, the absence of standardisation has led to healthcare becoming difficult to navigate for the average consumer. This is further become more difficult due to the diversity in terms of language and culture. Healthcare start-ups which can offer simplified solutions often struggle to reach the appropriate customer base.
- Strategic and reciprocal partnerships with bigger entities: Healthcare is a betworked offering requiring multiple touchpoints, which can range from diagnostic, to insurance, to surgeries and postoperative care. Each is a niche speciality, which requires partnerships across the entire eco-system for best results. These strategic partnerships, between service providers, and logistics, and technology will be a win win for everyone.
- Patient-Related Data (user friendly digital systems), protocols : We are fast emerging in a world, where data is King. A patient’s medical history, concerns and needs have to be documented in a systematic manner so that they can be following all protocols in the same way. Cloud interfaces, which allow patients to access their history, as well as give them access to hospital care, insurance and other logistics will help the healthcare industry immensely.
- Lack of proper innovation strategies: Healthcare in India needs a technology centric approach as that is the only way to ensure adequate healthcare distribution across the country. Currently the healthcare industry is very metro focused and has only medical professionals at the centre of it, thus making it archaic in approach. Technological innovations, app based booking systems, higher insurance penetration are among the difficulties faced by the healthcare industry. Technology and innovation will also play a major role in the way healthcare can be standardised in India.
- Vibrant health tech ecosystem during pandemic: The pandemic displayed a digital pivot for the healthcare industry like no other. From video consultations, to diagnostic apps, the health tech industry rose to the occasion to help unburden an overcrowded healthcare industry. This digital revolution is here to stay and will surely stand the healthcare industry in good stead.
- Healthcare – Software as a service: In healthcare, Software as a Service (SaaS) applications include clinical information systems (PACS, EHR, telehealth, etc.) and nonclinical information systems (billing, RCM, supply chain, etc.) replaces traditional software usage by reducing the need to own and host hardware. This simplifies processes and makes the entire system asset light as technology takes over all processes. It also allows for healthcare to be asset light and offers numerous cost benefits.
- Home healthcare scopes : Given a large elderly population, the need for palliative care as well as post operative care, home healthcare scopes will soon be on the rise. This also places less load on the public healthcare facilities as much of the disease management can be done at home. This can be done in the place of diagnostics, prescriptives, and care.
- Increase adaptability – Health advisory content aggregators, and personal health tracking apps, wearables, and monitoring sensors.: This sector has risen considerably in the past two years due to increased awareness of preventive health, Wearable health tech is now a huge industry within itself. Similarly, personal health tracking apps, for lifestyle management, diabetes and cardiac control are allowing patients to have a better approach to their health concerns.
- AI/ML data driven clinical trials: AI is fast being recognised as a technology that stores and sifts reams of data, in the least possible time, which is essential at times of clinical trials. They combine different phases of clinical trials as well as splice data across varied demographics offering faster results for all concerned. Critical medical research is also being fuelled by machine learning. The latter allows for prediction of pharmaceutical properties of medical compounds as well as the ability for faster diagnosis of internal organs, neural networks etc.
All in all, the healthcare industry in India is poised for a revolution across the board and will continue to evolve to offer safer and better practises overall.