Demystifying Healthcare Technology
Healthcare, is and remains, one of the most pressing challenges for our nation. We have come a long way but still, this space demands extensive advancement. Research says, “The Indian Healthcare Industry is expected to touch $260 billion in 2020”. With government’s latest intrusion in this sector, startups are identifying real problems in this space by taking a second look on things which made us accustomed in the past by addressing issues like early detection of disease, prevention, accessibility, affordability etc.
Headstart, with its Startup Saturday Bangalore initiative, organized an event for April 2018 edition, by bringing experts to share their perspective regarding the growth and challenges in Healthcare Industry. The session started with a very informative Panel Discussion on topic “Opportunities and Challenges in forming Healthcare Startup”, headed by:
Geetha Manjunath, Co-founder & CEO at NIRAMAI, provides radiation-free, low cost accurate and portable cancer screening tool that helps in detecting Breast Cancer at a very early stage by using Thermography technique.
Subhadeep Mondal, Co-founder & CEO at PregBuddy, provides a reassurance platform, for existing mothers. This Startup has been growing organically from Whatsapp group to the current traction of more than 60,000 mothers.
Ahimanikya Satapathy, Founder & CEO at DocEngage, provides a comprehensive patient records management software facilitating a one-stop solution to patients for holistic care delivery.
Vikram Rai, Co-founder & Head Business at Chikitsak Lifesciences, provides a cost-effective large-scale Non Communicable and Chronic disease screening solution by leveraging technology and community outreach model.
The session was moderated by Dr. Jaya Bajaj, a Family Physician at Lifestyle Medicine.
Below are some of the challenges faced by these startups as shared by the panellists:
- The calculated doctor-patient ratio in India is as bad as 1:1700, and it goes even worse to 1:60,000 in rural areas. With such insufficient numbers, convincing the doctors to look up to the digitized healthcare techniques becomes extremely difficult. Not only doctors, spreading awareness and gaining trust among patients is also the biggest challenges faced by the startups.
- Inadequate Infrastructure is a critical problem that end users face resulting in non-accessibility or non-consumption of resources. One of the possible solutions for this problem is greater digital penetration for a majority of the population in a structured way.
- Growth in Health tech industry is quite slow which makes it hard to monetize. Startups, be it doctor-patient platforms, doctor-doctor, lab aggregators, struggle with finding a sustainable revenue model. Moreover, this sector is highly capital intensive with comparatively slower returns especially in smaller towns and rural areas. There might not be tough competitors in this space but monetizing or getting funding becomes the cause of concern for these startups.
Trends and Opportunities in Global Healthcare and Lifesciences:
The panel discussion was followed by the Fireside chat with Sangita Singh, EVP and Head, Healthcare & Lifesciences, Infosys. She shared her perspective on the opportunities available in Global Healthtech market. The unique confluence of emerging technologies likes Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), Big Data Analytics and Robotics will give huge breakthrough in this sector.
According to her, stakeholders in the global market are strategically moving from volume to value through policy reforms, programs promoting operational efficiency, use of technology, population health management, wellness and addressing the social determinants of health. Hence, there are immense opportunities for startups in a global market due to this changed approach.
A final piece of advice given by Sangita – “To make a startup successful, knowing a problem and its solution is not enough until one knows how to find customers.”
Investment Landscapes in Health tech Industry:
Last keynote speaker of the event was K.L. Mukesh, Venture Partner, Unitus Seed Fund. He gave an insight on how to scale a healthcare startup. According to him, for the Indian market, diagnostics is a major area for tech intervention, given that there is just one doctor available for every 1,700 people. The investors look for potential startups which can play a growing part in supplementing or even disrupting traditional healthcare systems that are inadequate for such a large, diverse country.
He suggested, it is important to focus on the problem rather than finding a solution and force fit a problem to it. Accessibility, Affordability and Accuracy are the key features that interest the investors. He strongly believes that this sector is highly underserved and demands more innovative actions for its betterment.
Shefali Singh Bhatia
Volunteer – Headstart Bangalore