Health tech is blazing hot right now and there's no shortage of startups entering this marketplace with their innovative products and services claiming to change the face of healthcare as we know it.
There are some who are vouching on their innovation of booking diagnostic services through mobile apps and getting the reports available on the same, while some are paving the way for a quality home-based healthcare model for the chronically ill in a specialized manner to the doorstep and at one’s bedside.
With a flurry of health apps coming to the fore with promise and a result-oriented approach, the trend in the healthcare industry seems to be changing, but are these startups really adding value to the large and varied sector of healthcare?
Healthcare is indisputably one of the most complex sectors, creating opportunities for the new breed of health start-ups to be flexible, prompt and responsive whilst focusing on solving one specific problem at a time. With only one doctor for 1,700 people in India since the World Bank's 2012 data, it's clear that there is a lot of room for this space to grow.
Balancing innovation and value generation in healthcare, however, is poses as a big dilemma for healthcare providers in India. With a significant portion of our population devoid of access to even basic quality of care, there exists a huge gap in the healthcare delivery space in terms of supply and demand.
This makes focusing on delivering at scale an urgent need. At the same time, bringing costs of quality health care down depends on how much is spent on research and development today. Healthcare providers must face the challenge of sourcing funds for R&D while delivering value within the severe constraints they face in the current scenario.
In a country like India where there is a massive supply gap of healthcare delivery and the industry revolves around the lives of patients, people generally put the onus of remedying every critical condition they face on the providers, enablers, and suppliers. Thus, healthcare startups, whether they are doctor – patient platforms or lab aggregators, are required to focus on either fulfilling the current needs or innovate in medical devices, technology, and clinical research to transform healthcare for the future.
There is no easy way because if a company does not deliver the required value to the healthcare sector today, it will not be eligible to change the future, meanwhile, if it fails to innovate, it cannot create a disruption in the market.
While innovation is essential, startups must also pay attention towards their customer service and service quality at the current levels. Achieving a balance between current delivery and innovation is crucial to realise their vision. To make it possible, health tech companies must form a combined team, wherein one services the current needs and another identifies the gap and iteratively innovates. This will ensure better delivery of health care and smoother management for all the stakeholders in patient care.
While new technology has been leaving its fingerprints on every aspect of healthcare, pregnancy and infant care services is one such area that is gaining tremendous momentum because of their need for constant monitoring. While there are a bunch of online platforms offering these services, a one-stop online platform for quality care is what needs to be focused upon so that customers can pay attention to the most important aspects of bringing up a child.
As per the Indian Brand Equity Foundation, by 2017, the size of the healthcare industry is going to reach $160 billion. But there aren't many startups cropping up with ideas in preventive healthcare, or coming up with any concrete solution apart from claiming to be a disruptor.
We want startups to improve four things in healthcare; access, effectiveness, affordability and preventive care, to induce a change in the behaviour of people in the segment. To make it possible, they must envision investing deeply in creating viable solutions and this can be better fulfilled with the support from policymakers and existing healthcare players. In particular, areas like medical training, clinical research, patient management and medical information are all problems looking for innovative solutions.
Today, the Indian healthcare system is at an inflexion point where our clinical expertise has been globally acknowledged. The same is reflected in our booming medical tourism. However, we are still awaiting a significant improvement in delivering this expertise at scale to witness global acceptance.