Startups Driving Good Changes in Healthcare Sector at a Fast Pace
New Delhi. With the corona pandemic and changing times, the need of the hour is to change the healthcare system as well. Startups have played an important role in driving this transformation. Ratna Mehta, Executive Vice President of Wadhwani Foundation, Wadhwani Catalyst Fund, analyzed the issue.
India is the diabetes capital of the world, with 73 million cases present, which are increasing rapidly. According to a study by the American Diabetes Association, by 2030, the number of diabetic patients in India will increase the most. The number of cancer cases in India is third in the world. More than 1.6 million Indians are diagnosed with cancer every year. The death toll from this is 50 percent. And not only this, India has the highest number of deaths of newborn babies.
Healthcare system far behind (Startups Driving Good Changes in Healthcare Sector at a Fast Pace)
Despite the burden of diseases being so high, India is one of the countries where government spending on health care is the lowest. Insurance matters are also less here. The reach of the traditional business model in the healthcare sector is not good. The capital expenditure and operating cost are very high. In addition, there are huge gaps in the demand and supply of skilled resources.
With about 74 percent of doctors in the country concentrated in urban areas, access to basic primary healthcare is a significant issue in semi-urban and rural areas. Due to this need came the facility of telemedicine and it is able to reach far-flung areas. In this way, it can deliver basic healthcare to everyone.
Telemedicine (Startups Driving Good Changes in Healthcare Sector at a Fast Pace)
There are also a variety of models within telemedicine, ranging from completely online to mixed models. Medcords is a rural telemedicine platform providing online teleconsultation. For this, it digitizes the medical records and this facility is provided through the pharmacy network.
Another such platform focused on rural areas is Karma Healthcare, which is following a hub and spoke model. Its hub consists of two nurses who enable teleconsultation with expert doctors.
Glocal (Startups Driving Good Changes in Healthcare Sector at a Fast Pace)
Glocal is a technology-based platform that provides access to healthcare to the rural population. For this, it has a comprehensively integrated model of primary and secondary care hospitals, digital technology, and dispensaries. At present, it has 141 digital dispensaries in Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and some northeastern states. The hospitals at Glocal are specially designed and each of them has 100 beds and is equipped with unique equipment of its kind. It has standardized protocols for 38 diseases that cover 91 percent of diseases or conditions.
A Bangalore-based startup, Qure.AI uses AI and a deep knowledge algorithm to identify abnormalities in scans. This allows the scan to detect abnormalities and thereby improve the precision and speed of disease detection. AI is also aiding in cancer detection.
Merciless (Startups Driving Good Changes in Healthcare Sector at a Fast Pace)
Nirmai, a start-up focused on women’s health, has developed technology for breast cancer detection which is made possible by reading the patient’s body temperature.
Hub and Spoke
Innovative business models like ‘Hub & Spoke’ improve access to critical medical facilities and ensure improved operational efficiency and reduced costs. India’s premier cancer institute, Tata Memorial Center aims to set up around 30 hubs and 100 spokes across the country to facilitate access to affordable cancer treatment. Each hub is expected to cater to 40,000 new patients every year while Spoke is expected to handle 8,000 new patients. The aim is to increase the reach to 40 million people through hubs and 5-10 million through spokes.
The emergence of online pharmacies over the past five years has helped in making medicines accessible and affordable. Analytics-driven inventory management enables higher fill rates and higher sales leading to patients getting medicines at better rates while a technology-enabled supply chain enables faster deliveries.
According to AIIMS, it is 24 percent in cardiac cases and 50-80 percent in case of hypertension. 1mg, pharma easy and netmeds are big institutes in this field. They are backed by good investors and are expanding their network across the country. Apart from this, there are some more organizations like Dawa Dost which are emerging and are likely to exist side by side with these big organizations provided they can take their special place in this field of drug delivery. This is truly the beginning of a major transformation in the healthcare delivery space.