Indian Home Healthcare Industry Outlook 2021: The Road Ahead
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The healthcare industry has always been synonymous with innovation and using advanced technologies for better outcomes and greater patient comfort. The crucial role of innovation and technology driven out of home healthcare industry has been amply underscored by the service providers in this sector in the wake of the pandemic outbreak. As the pandemic spread, the country was put under lockdown and out-patient departments as well as doctors’ clinics suspended their services to avoid becoming virus hotspots. Consequently, patients with chronic ailments, minor diseases, and those in post-surgery/injury rehab stage were left without any medical support as hospitals catered to critical patients or serious COVID-19 cases.
In such circumstances, home healthcare emerged as the true champion for people. In fact, even among the COVID-19 positive cases, no less than 80 per cent are either asymptomatic or don’t require hospitalization. Thus, there is a massive demand for out-of-hospital healthcare in the country. It is estimated that the home healthcare industry in India is growing at CAGR of 15-19 per cent a year and will be valued at around $11–13 billion by 2025 compared with $5.4 billion at present (RedSeer Consulting).
The major healthcare related consumer pain points in the post COVID-19 scenario are access and availability, infection risks, higher costs of repeat hospital visits and hospitalization costs as well as the lack of quality personal care. The innovative services offered by the home healthcare sector have proved to be highly efficient and practical in addressing these. Their biggest USP is the cutting-edge technologies that they bring into operation offering various diagnostic and assistance services. This includes dialysis and chemotherapy at home alongside chronic disease management, rehabilitation and therapeutic care as well as home isolation services for COVID-19 patients. The technology-based home healthcare providers run fully digital operations which help in generating data necessary for the implementation of the National Digital Health Mission.
The pandemic risks made it necessary for the elderly, patients of chronic diseases and people with weak immunity to avoid visiting hospitals and physical healthcare facilities as far as possible. However, this created an unaddressed demand for care and doctors’ consultations for patients to continue their medication or to seek advice for regular healthcare concerns. The advanced telemedicine technology has made it very convenient for people to opt for this channel. Through video calls and online messaging services, patients or their family members can discuss the patient’s condition, share diagnostic reports and seek prescription for the health issues. Through usage of technology, doctors can remotely inspect the patients and advise them accordingly.
Similarly, tele-consultations can also help alleviate fears and apprehensions affecting the general public. For instance, when a patient is declared COVID-19 positive, there are a lot of doubts and questions that the family members might have. However, due to the isolation, they are not able to discuss them with doctors. Tele-consultation helps bridge this gap and in getting authentic and real-time information.
The healthcare challenges experienced during the pandemic are likely to continue into the foreseeable future as COVID-19 continues to affect many countries. What this has also done is to generate greater awareness and demand for quality healthcare at home. Thus, the emerging practice of remote monitoring and consultations aka virtual care and visits will only gain momentum in 2021.
Cutting-edge technology and high-speed Internet access has already ensured that we can remain at home and avail all necessary services such as supplies, entertainment, education, work and remuneration at home. According to WHO’s data, there were about 900 million elderly people in the world in 2015, and by the year 2050, senior citizens will touch the 2 billion mark. With the rise in virtual technology innovations, there is ample reason to believe that virtual monitoring and on-demand home healthcare services will become an integral and essential part of healthcare ecosystems all over the world.