Healthcare at Home – An Imperative Part of the Indian Healthcare Landscape
Over the past decade, there have been significant advancements in the healthcare industry in India, owing to well trained personnel, better diagnostic technology and superior quality medical equipment. The overall Indian healthcare market is worth approx US$ 100 billion and is expected to grow to US$ 280 billion by 2020, according to a study.
This has resulted in India becoming a hub for medical tourism, driving increase in expenditure by public and private players. Moreover, India is extremely cost competitive compared to its peers in Asia and Western countries. The cost of surgery here, for instance, is about one-tenth of that in the US or Western Europe.
Currently, the healthcare scenario is dominated by hospitals, nursing homes, diagnostics centres and pharmaceuticals that constitute 65 per cent of the overall market share. While the opportunities in India drive tremendous capital investment for advanced diagnostic facilities, the cost of medical services in the country has grown as well. Also, there is a shortage of beds in Indian hospitals, and an additional 600,000 to 700,000 beds are required over the next five to six years. This has resulted in an increase in the number of patients that require professional medical care, but cannot be accommodated in a hospital environment. Amid the rapidly increasing burden of chronic diseases, and the demand for quality medical care, especially for the elderly, the market is now opening up for home-based healthcare services.
The Growth of Home Healthcare
According to a new research report by CMR, the market for home healthcare in India is projected to reach US $6.2 Billion by 2020 at a CAGR of 18% from US $3.2 Billion in 2016. Propelled by an increasingly changing family landscape, favourable demographics, increasing disposable incomes, and quest for better preventive care, the home healthcare, which represents a small chunk of the overall healthcare industry currently, is likely to grow immensely in the years ahead in India.
Home healthcare has the potential to replace up to 65% of unnecessary hospital visits in India, and costs upto <20% incurred on hospital costsHowever, it is in no way trying to replace hospitals, but to complement them, by reducing the average length of stay, ensuring efficient utilization of existing bed capacity and reducing chances of re-admission.
Globally, the home healthcare market is anticipated to reach $368 billion by 2020. In contrast, the market for home healthcare is growing faster in India. There are many reasons for this, some of which include:
- Increased digital adoption and strong consumer demand
- Better diagnostic technology, lessening the need for a hospital setting
- India’s geriatric population, the second largest in the world
- Viable business with long term profit streams
Today, the home healthcare market in India is fragmented and comprises of some exciting start-ups. One sees a clear focus on innovation among these organisations and collaborative efforts with companies looking to bank on wearable medical devices to record patient data in real-time, which can trigger alerts in the system for quick and pre-emptive action.
The concept of healthcare at home has been received well by patients and their families. It provides the comfort of home and saves the physical and psychological pressure of hospital visits and stays, and is more affordable than hospital stays at the same time. It has also found great favour with expats who have parents at home in India and are looking for professional healthcare for them at the convenience of home.
Presently, the Indian home healthcare companies are focused on elderly care, rehabilitation and diabetes management. Although, the elderly care still contributes a substantial portion of the revenues, there are new market segments within home healthcare that are opening up, including neo natal care and physiotheraphy for long term recovery patients. And these are some of the emerging categories that we see in the market today.
As the industry evolves, we are likely to see more sophisticated home healthcare services emerge in India, however, before it can mature as a market, it needs to address the challenges faced. Some of these challenges include employee retention, employee utilization, operational issues such as inconsistency in quality and lack of standard protocols for in-home healthcare training. Of these, training is an extremely essential component, as there is a shortage of well-trained, skilled workers in India with only 2.3% of the workforce who have undergone formal training, according to a report by National Skill Development Mission. The Indian educational system currently does not have a structured training program for home health care, and there is a pertinent requirement for vocational training for para-medical services to build a strong home health care system.
The home healthcare market in India is set to disrupt the conventional medical service space in the near future. For this to happen, organized players stepping into the market to address existing gaps and bring in credibility, standards and accountability. The sector will get an additional boost when insurance companies will start to add home healthcare to their cover. Home healthcare will play a critical role in expanding the spectrum of healthcare services in India in the years to come, and companies that have identified the potential in its early days are likley to set the course for this sunrise industry in India’s healthcare story.