Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare was one of the most critical issues in India, from both access and cost viewpoints. Having limited resources means doing more with less, and nothing enables that better than technology. In the last 18 months, the emergence of healthcare and health-tech startups has demonstrated that admirably.
Here is the scale of the challenge in healthcare: India’s allopathic doctor-to-patient ratio is 1:1596, compared to the WHO standard of 1:1000. India is ranked 145 out of 195 countries on the Health Access and Quality (HAQ) index, a global metric created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA.
At the same time, in June 2021, India had 5,705 startups that focus on healthcare, according to Traxcn, a research firm that tracks technology investments. According to the same firm, investment in India’s health-tech sector from 2014 amounts to roughly $3.4 billion.
As our 2020 report “Igniting Startups with Investor Insights”–that we wrote in partnership with KPMG–said, health and technology would be the fastest growing sectors that startups and private equity investors would be betting on.
SURVEYING THE LANDSCAPE
India’s health-tech universe is a widely varying one, and experts identify several areas. Most, however, are concentrated in a limited group: telemedicine, online pharmacies, homecare, and diagnostics. In other words, they focus on improving access and care.
Telemedicine was one of the areas where the impact of health-tech was most visibly felt during the pandemic. A report by IAMAI-PRAXIS found that telephonic and video consultations with doctors went up by 300% during the pandemic (still ongoing). Orders from e-pharmacies went up 200%, mostly from patients with chronic conditions.
Apollo Health, a healthcare player with a large presence, has set up teleclinic centres in rural locations; video chat technologies allow patients to consult doctors directly. But several health-tech companies offer more than just teleconsultations. Consider Practo, that helped to create scale in direct-to-patient, app-based solutions. This startup offers a whole package of services that includes insurance claims filing, electronic health records, and even links patients to a network of doctors and hospitals.
Other health-tech startups that enable more efficient doctor-patient consultations include Lybrate, DocsApp, and MFine. A report by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by 2025, telemedicine will account for half of all patient-doctor consultations in India. There’s a bonus: it will save $4 to $5 billion in costs since telemedicine visits are 30% cheaper.
Access to medicines has been another challenge. According to a 2018 report from Research and Markets, a market intelligence provider, India’s 850,000 retail pharmacies are still only able to meet 60% of total demand. Firms like 1mg, PharmEasy, Netmeds, Medlife, etc., have emerged to address that gap.
FROM HEALTH-TECH TO DEEPTECH
In recent years, people have started paying greater and more regular attention to personal health management. Health tracking apps like Maya and PregBuddy, for example, help women monitor their periods and their conditions during pregnancy.
Many fitness and nutrition startups have emerged as wellness gained importance. Fitternity, Cure.fit, HealthifyMe, GoQii, and HealthKart are among the prominent ones. There are several business models, for example, GoQii has a wearable device with remote trainers. Yourdost and InnerHour focus on mental wellbeing.
The home healthcare segment continues to evolve, from simple testing, taking care of the elderly, cancer support, pathology sample collection–many remember the flurry of RT-PCR testing at home during the pandemic–to physiotherapy and home nursing.
More than 75% of all clinical decisions depend on diagnostics, so it is only natural that health-tech goes there too.
This is where artificial intelligence and data analytic—the high-tech end of health-tech—come in. Qure.ai, NIRAMAI Health Analytix, and SigTuple enable faster, better diagnosis, using deeptech to analyse radiology, pathology, and medical imaging reports.
Some innovations address indirect health issues. The BabyLabel LLP, for example, makes CO2Care, which are small canisters to be placed in any masks to protect against airborne virus infections like Covid-19. These canisters have the material in them that absorbs CO2. It addresses concerns over CO2 buildup in masks worn for extended periods. Research indicates that increased CO2 concentration could result in people suffering from fatigue, headaches, and a loss of concentration.
There are other areas in which health-tech startups become deeptech or IP-driven, innovator firms: medical devices, biotech R&D, biopharma, healthcare IT services, even genomics. The possibilities seem almost endless, integrating healthcare and technology to make the extraordinary possible.
FUTURE OF HEALTH-TECH IN INDIA
Viewed in terms of size, the market for healthcare technology does not seem impressive, at an estimated $2 billion or roughly Rs 15,000 crore. That’s less than 1% of the overall healthcare market which according to many analysts, will be $372 billion in 2025.
But it’s the impact that healthcare startups and health-tech will create that matters. Health-tech is expected to grow at 39% on a compounded annual growth rate and create 40 million new jobs by 2030. The government has introduced several elements of a national digital health ecosystem that, when it all comes together, will have exponential network effects.
In July 2015, while launching the Digital India Initiative, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “I dream of a Digital India where quality healthcare percolates right up to the remotest regions powered by e-healthcare.” Health-tech startups will reshape how healthcare is delivered in the next decade and make the realisation of that vision possible.
Aman Gupta is Co-founder & Managing Partner at SPAG and Christina A. D’souza is the Healthcare Practice Lead at SPAG.
Health-tech is expected to grow at 39% on a compounded annual growth rate and create 40 million new jobs by 2030. The government has introduced several elements of a national digital health ecosystem that, when it all comes together, will have exponential network effects.
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India’s daily Covid cases are at a four-month low ahead of the festive season
India’s Covid-19 infection tally fell below 2,000 for the first time in four months on Tuesday, with the country recording 1,968 new infections in the previous 24 hours. Over 26,300 new infections were reported in India in the week ending October 2.
After two years of muted celebrations due to the virus, the latest dip is being viewed as a respite by thousands across the country.
Here are some of the most recent updates on the country’s pandemic situation:
- The daily Covid tally on Tuesday was the lowest in 133 days. On May 23, a total of 1,675 cases were reported in a 24-hour period.
- According to data from the Union Health Ministry, the number of active cases has also decreased by 1,528 in the last 24 hours, to 34,598. Active cases currently account for 0.08 percent of all cases.
- According to the reports, the daily positivity rate was 0.94 percent, while the weekly positivity rate was 1.29 percent.
- The nationwide Covid-19 death toll has risen to 5,28,716 with 15 fatalities, including eight deaths reconciled by Kerala, according to data updated by the ministry.
- According to state data, the national capital reported 39 Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours. Maharashtra reported 186 new infections, with Mumbai accounting for 66 of them.
- On Tuesday, Madhya Pradesh reported 13 new cases, J&K reported 11 cases, and Gujarat reported 62 infections.
- The southern state of Tamil Nadu saw 461 new infections, which was slightly higher than the state average. Telangana had 73 cases reported.
Vietnam reports its first case of monkeypox
Health officials in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City announced the country’s first case of monkeypox on Monday, according to the state-run Vietnamnet newspaper, without providing any details on the patient.
According to the reports, Mainland China reported its first case of monkeypox last month in the western megacity of Chongqing in a traveller who arrived from abroad.
The traveller arrived in China on an unspecified date, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing the Chongqing health commission. The traveller developed a rash and other symptoms while being quarantined in accordance with COVID-19 controls, a practice that affects anyone arriving from abroad, according to the WSJ.
After reviewing test results, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the monkeypox case. According to the report, the traveller is being treated at a designated hospital and is in good condition.
What is The Full Meaning of Health?
Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Health may refer to the ability to adapt and manage physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and social conditions through changes in lifestyle or self-care.
The word “health” is sometimes used as an abbreviation for “health care”, although health care is only one part of what is meant by health. For example, one might speak about the benefits of “going to the doctor” or “taking medicine”, or the costs of not getting enough sleep or exercise.
There are many other factors that impact on health each day: nutrition(the food we eat), childhood experiences (the way we were raised), quality of medical care (the drugs and surgery used), genetics (how strong our immune system is), stress levels (whether we feel anxious or depressed), environmental exposure to chemicals and toxins (pesticides on crops, exhaust from cars) and so on .
Health is a state of optimal physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. An important way to promote health is to prevent disease, which can be accomplished through immunization programs and screening for early signs of disease. Promotion of good health often involves advice and education about healthy eating habits, exercise, hygiene, self-care, preventive measures against infectious diseases and other health practices. Health care systems are organizations established to meet the health needs of target populations.
Why do we need a healthy lifestyle?
A healthy lifestyle refers to the habits that help people live longer and healthier lives. A healthy lifestyle includes:
Eating a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables.
Not smoking cigarettes.
Kashmiri ASHA worker serves as inspiration by donating blood 28 times
A 32-year-old woman named Bilqees Ara, an ASHA worker, has donated blood 28 times since 2012. She has served as an inspiration to others across the nation.
Bilqees, who is from the Handwara Tehsil in the Kupwara area of North Kashmir, stated that she understands the “importance of blood”.
She said that by donating a pint of blood, she not only saves a precious life but an entire family.
She began donating blood in 2012 and has since given 28 pints.
She expressed her gratitude and pride at being the saviour of so many patients in the Kashmir valley.
I’ve seen people cry helplessly as they try to get blood to save their loved ones, but I’m proud of myself because I’ve arranged blood for them as well. “I felt an inner joy after that,” she said.
In Kashmir, she is known as the “Blood Woman of Kashmir”.
She is a registered blood donor. Whenever a need arises, the officials at the Blood Bank at Handwara hospital call her and, within the shortest span of time, she makes herself available to donate blood.
Women should come forward and do this as there is nothing to be afraid of. This is to be done for society, she said. She also said that she wondered who else would do it if she refused.
If a person has blood and courage, why can’t he give it to someone else in a time of need? She asked.
Covid facilities to reduce in Delhi amid drop in cases
The Delhi government has closed 11 Covid care facilities because to a consistent reduction in cases. Two Covid Care Centers are operational at Ambedkar Nagar Hospital, which has 50 beds, and Balak Ram Hospital, which has 25 beds, according to a government report. Only five admissions were registered at Ambedkar Nagar Hospital over the past three months, while there were none at Balak Ram Hospital.
The number of patients has steadily decreased at the remaining CCCs as well, according to reports.
According to officials, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority on Thursday decided to scale back the medical staff and infrastructure that had been deployed for COVID management in a planned manner. The health department will now formulate an action plan in response to this decision.
“The deven CCCs were closed and dismantled by Delhi government and one by the Centre and three others with total 4000 bed capacity- Radha Saomi Satsang ,Chattarpur, Sawan Kirpal, Burari , and Sant Nirankari, Burari- were closed but not yet dismantled”, officials said.
India’s daily covid tally falls below 5k with 4,858 new cases
India reported 4,858 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, 806 fewer than yesterday, bringing the total to 4,45,39,046, according to data released by the Union health ministry on Monday. On the other hand, according to the health bulletin, the number of active cases rose to 48,027.
India has 0.11 percent of the infections that are still active, and the Covid recovery rate has risen to 98.71 percent. 2.76 percent was the daily positivity rate, while 1.78 percent was the weekly positivity rate.
Infections with the coronavirus are currently most common in Kerala, followed by Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam, and West Bengal.
The health ministry stated that as many as 18 fatalities were reported today, taking the death toll to 5,28,355. This included eight deaths reconciled by Kerala.
According to the data available, 2.16 billion doses of vaccines have been administered in the country so far under the nationwide Covid vaccination drive.
On December 19, India’s Covid-19 total had reached one billion. On May 4 and June 23, respectively, last year, it reached the depressing milestones of two and three crore. On January 25 of this year, the number of Covid cases in the nation surpassed four crore.
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