Did the Pandemic-induced Healthtech Adoption Continue in 2023? According to IBEF, the healthtech sector consists of over 1% of the total healthcare industry in India and by 2023, it will reach up to $132.84 bn
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Healthtech was one of the few sectors that saw a massive uptick because of the pandemic. This adoption further paved the way for innovations and usage of advanced technologies. It also opened up heightened possibilities of healthcare access at the grassroots. The Union Budget allocated an INR 88,956 crore for 2023–24, indicating a rise of 2.7 per cent from the previous year. The government also launched several nationwide programs, such as Ayushman Bharat and the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), to use technology to offer access to healthcare for all.
According to India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) data, the healthtech sector consists of over 1 % of the total healthcare industry in India and by 2023, it will reach up to $132.84 billion.
But, did the pandemic-led uptick in healthtech adoption continue in 2023 as well? Or, was there a slowdown? Here is a look at how different segments within health performed in 2023.
According to Tracxn, India is currently home to around 280 mental health startups, which have raised capital over $53 Mn to date. Some of the players in the space include Wysa, LISSUN, Shyft, Innerhour, Trijog, Sukoon, YourDOST, Mitsu, and others.
Even though these startups have been around for some time, they came to the fore during the pandemic, when the awareness and realization about addressing mental health issues increased. And, last year too, these startups continued to use digital channels to reach more consumers. They also tied up with corporates to offer periodical programmes to employees.
AI-powered virtual assistants
A standout feature of 2023 was the dominance of AI-powered virtual assistants." In response to the escalating healthcare demands stemming from rising Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), the development and integration of AI-powered virtual assistants experienced a twofold increase. AI and Machine Learning took center stage, playing pivotal roles in diagnosing, monitoring, and predicting health risks, supporting comparative studies, and expanding into various realms to streamline healthcare processes," said Sohini Sengupta, Medical Laboratory Director, Redcliffe Labs.
Experts believe that these cutting-edge technologies empower clinicians to comprehensively monitor patients' health, tracking aspects such as dietary habits, sleep patterns, and weight. Smart reports offer personalized insights into medical history, facilitating tailored treatment plans and, ultimately, the delivery of individualized care aligned with patients' preferences.
"While the tech dominance in healthcare is undeniable, its efficacy lies in judicious usage, proving to be an invaluable asset for clinicians and healthcare professionals alike,'' Sengupta added.
Tele-consultation or online consultation was the only way out for patients stuck at home during the pandemic. Experts expected this trend to continue due to habit formation even after the world opened up. However, that was not the case. More and more patients started to opt for physical one-on-one consultations all over again. However, one space where teleconsultation was proven to be effective this year is the mental health space.
According to Tracxn, teleconsultation has played a crucial role in countries like India where there are only 0.75 psychiatrists per 100,000 population, significantly lower than European countries like Germany, which has 27 psychiatrists per 100,000 inhabitants.
Femtech has emerged as a promising segment within healthtech. We saw startups continuing to offer advanced technologies that address female health this year as well. From pregnancy monitoring apps and teleconsultations to advancements in breast cancer screening and treatment, this segment is slowly but steadily growing. In addition to that, the menstrual hygiene market also continues to grow, with heightened awareness about sustainable products. E-commerce platforms have offered a level playing field for startups in the space. Real-time data tracking and personalized product offerings saw better adoption this year.
Although Covid-19 brought down the sales revenue of gyms, they were back on track last year. However, online fitness classes and offline with tech integration continued to rise. Fitness enthusiasts continued to go for at-home workouts and digital fitness solutions.
The fitness app market in India is projected to grow by 19.47% during 2023-2027, resulting in a market volume of $7.99 billion in 2027, according to Statista report. The home fitness app market has also seen significant growth in India, with a 156% increase in downloads between Q1 and Q2 2020, it says. HealthifyMe, Cure.fit and Fittr are some of the leading players in the segment.
Diagnostics and preventive care
According to a report by RedSeer Strategy Consultants, Chiratae Ventures and Amazon Web Services (AWS), the Indian preventive healthcare market is expected to double in size from $93 billion in 2021 to $197 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 22 per cent. The curative healthcare segment, which constituted 64 per cent of the total healthcare spends in India in 2021-22, is growing at 15 per cent. The report also says that over 30 per cent of the top 40 funded preventive healthtech startups leverage AI/ML for use cases such as medical image analysis, document extraction, chatbots, personalization, and health risk prediction. Practo, Tata1Mg, Netmeds, and PharmEasy are some of the key players in the space.
Medicine delivery platforms
Online pharmacies came under a lot of scrutiny this year. In Feb this year, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) sent show-cause notices to 20 epharmacies, including Tata 1mg, Amazon, and Flipkart, for selling and distributing drugs in contravention of provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. In May, the Delhi High Court (HC)questioned the union government for failing to formulate rules to govern the country's burgeoning epharmacy industry. It directed the Centre to take action against illegal epharmacies. However, despite this ongoing tussle, some early-stage startups in the space such as MrMed and Fundly.ai, bagged funding.