India is a country that is democratic and It is the government’s responsibility to provide primary health care for individuals. India is a large nation, and it is a major challenge to establish a better health system. About 70 percent of India’s population lives in rural areas. The government is continuously striving for primary health care to be provided. There are many quality gaps between India’s rural and urban areas and public and private health care. Through all this, India continues a popular destination for foreign medical tourists because of the relatively low cost and high quality of its private hospitals (1).
Comparing to any hospital in the UK or the US, there are hospitals in India excelling in standards. In India, some skilled surgeons and doctors have made a mark in their respective fields. But the most unfortunate thing is that these surgeons and doctors’ services have reached not all sections of the population. The medical care delivery system has to change if the benefit has to reach even the poorest of the poor. Corruption has made its way into our country’s health service area, as in any other industry. Even after the insane amount of money being poured into public hospitals and having the best facilities, it is the field of medical care delivery that comes into question.
Comparing to any hospital in the UK or the US, there are hospitals in India excelling in standards. In India, some skilled surgeons and doctors have made a mark in their respective fields. But the sad part is that these surgeons and doctors’ services have reached not all population sections. The medical care delivery system has to change if the benefit has to reach even the poorest of the poor. In India, they have two options if someone gets sick or suffers from an accident: going to a government-run hospital and getting a private medical service. It’s very costly. The takeover of private medical services is not for every one (2).
Even for the middle class, this is a major catastrophe. For the ailing poor, the method of awarding compensation of a few thousand to the wounded after some years by a court is no remedy. On the other hand, he has to shell out a large amount of money if he goes to a private hospital. It further throws strain on the family that is already uncompensated. It is not necessary to blame private hospitals. (3) Medicare is becoming expensive every day worldwide, and even the most developed countries have begun to feel the pinch of it. It is true that in India, quality health care is also costly.
Between the early 1950s and early 1980s, health care facilities and staff increased substantially. However, the number of licensed medical practitioners per 10,000 individuals dropped from the 1981 level of four per 10,000 to three per 10,000 by the late 1980s due to rapid population growth. There were roughly ten hospital beds per 10,000 individuals in 1991. The key elements of the rural medical system are primary care centers. There were about 22,400 primary health centers, 11,200 hospitals, and 27,400 dispensaries in India by 1991. To meet most of their needs, primary health centers and sub-centers rely on trained paramedics (4).
The HealthCare sector: Spitting Facts
The predominance of clinical and curative concerns over the intended emphasis on preventive work and personnel’s reluctance to work in rural areas are the main problems affecting primary health centers’ success. Moreover, the integration of health services with family planning programs often makes local people perceive primary health centers as hostile to their traditional preference for large families. Therefore, in local efforts to implement national health policies, primary health centers frequently play an adversarial role (5).
The total number of civilian hospitals for all states and union territories combined was 10157, as per data provided in 1989 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. There were a total of 811000 beds in hospitals and health care facilities in 1991. And according to local socio-economic conditions, the geographical distribution of hospitals varies. There were 735 hospitals as of 1990 in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, with a 1991 population of more than 139 million. There were 2053 hospitals in Kerala, with 29 million in 1991, occupying an area just one-seventh the size of Uttar Pradesh.
Another 2,000, owned and operated by charitable trusts, received partial government support. The remaining 1,300 hospitals were owned and managed by the private sector, many of which were relatively small facilities. In the early 1990s, state-of-the-art medical equipment, often imported from Western nations, was mainly limited to urban centers. In the early 1990s, in major hospitals that were part of government medical colleges, a network of regional cancer diagnostic and treatment facilities was established. Twenty-two such centers were in operation until 1992 (6).
Most of the 1300 private hospitals lacked advanced medical facilities. However, about 12 percent had state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment equipment for all major diseases, including cancer, in 1992. In the 1990s, the rapid pace of development of the private medical sector and the burgeoning middle class led to India’s new notion of establishing for-profit hospitals and health care facilities. By the late 1980s, roughly three times more than in 1950, there were about 128 medical colleges. These medical colleges accepted a combined annual class of 14,166 students (7). The Indian Constitution charges the states with increasing the level of nutrition and the standard of living of their people and improving public health. Nevertheless, many critics of India’s National Health Policy, supported by Parliament in 1983, point out a lack of specific policy measures to achieve broadly stated objectives. The lack of integration of health services with broader economic and social development, the lack of nutritional support and sanitation, and poor participation at the local level are particular problems (8).
The central government’s efforts to influence public health have been concentrated on five-year plans, coordinated planning with states, and major health programs’ sponsorship. The central and state governments jointly share government expenditures. Goals and strategies are set through the central-state government’s consultation by the Central Health and Family Welfare Council. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which provides administrative and technical services and manages medical education, administers central government efforts. States provide public services and health education (9).
Startups in the sector
India’s healthcare industry has continuously been thriving and is one of its fastest-growing industries. With India’s merger of automation and healthcare, the industry can create new landmarks since technology has facilitated other sectors of the country, such as education and finance, adequate evidence of its ability to impact this sector easily effectively. By 2022, according to several investors, the healthcare market could have a value of 370 billion dollars, promising returns of up to 35 to 40 percent. Health technology is a game-changer, although India has a long way to expand health-related services using technology.
NASSCOM partnered with GE Healthcare in April 2019 to encourage startups in the area to support digital healthcare solutions in the region. Technologies such as machine learning, nanotechnology, IoT, AI, robotics, and 3D printing are just a few examples of healthcare functions. In India, there are about 3,225 startups that focus on health-technology. PharmEasy, CureFit, Practo, MedLife, CallHealth, etc., are some of the most prominent. Most startups are focused primarily on helping to access healthcare resources. This is not surprising, as medical specialists’ ratio to patients in the country is quite imbalanced. It is forecast that 40 million jobs will be created by 2030 (10).
Health tech startups are typically service-based platforms, and because of lower returns than other sectors and longer lead times to get those returns, they find it difficult to reach unicorn status. Healthcare is not a very fast-growing business because of its corporate nature. Unlike e-commerce, where overnight customers can bring in a huge sales and marketing push. It needs first to establish trust and reliability for a healthcare company to establish itself and flourish. In healthcare, having a healthy funding level does not guarantee the acquisition of customers overnight. It’s a slow-burning process in the healthcare sector to gain that confidence.
In India, there are about 3225 startups that focus on health-technology. PharmEasy, CureFit, Practo, MedLife, CallHealth, etc., are some of the most influential. Most startups are focused primarily on helping to access healthcare resources. This is not surprising, as medical specialists’ ratio to patients in the country is quite imbalanced. India’s health technology startups fit into the broad divisions of pharmacy, home care, diagnostic testing, biotechnology, etc. To find out the impact of technology’s culmination, let’s pick up the pharmacy and home health sectors as cases. By adopting telemedicine instead of physician appointments, Indians could save about 10 billion dollars by 2025 (11).
The rise of startups in healthcare in India reveals that we will soon look at the benefits of genomics, biotechnology, and robotics in hospitals and clinics to improve health-related services’ effectiveness. Artificial intelligence can identify diseases with complete certainty. Simultaneously, apps that monitor our lives and movements can improve the nation’s overall well-being. When we talk about the advancement of health technology in India, some things need to be kept in mind. With a focus on functionality, there is a compromise that neglects security and privacy. It can be critical to transmitting personal health information digitally.
India works its best to combat the ongoing virus through various information campaigns, despite its infrastructure and immense population. Coronavirus care programs, including 1 lakh rupees insurance cover for families affected by COVID 19 and free television consultation channels, were declared by Clinik Healthcare, one such health-tech startup providing 24/7 primary care through its web of doctors. Care. A complete healthcare platform has introduced telemedicine to easily and efficiently increase consumer reach during the country’s pandemic for high-quality doctors across different specialties.
Bione, a healthcare-based startup, has identified specific gene groups responsible for an individual’s susceptibility to coronavirus, another startup. They have also developed a COVID-19-centered (12) microbiome test that can generate tailored recommendations for individuals to strengthen their specific microbiome and thus be more immune to and fight off the virus in combination with some AI predictive analysis tools. India’s exponential success in health-tech startups shows that Indians are keen and trusting in better healthcare. Ultimately, technology could address the issues that trouble the Indian healthcare industry, such as nature, efficient capital employment, scalability, affordability, etc. Again, this explains India’s health-tech startups’ enormous potential, which can act as the bridge that meets the demands and needs.
One such health technology company that contributes to the digital healthcare ecosystem in India is Shifa Care. Shifa Care, founded by Manish Chhabra, is a multilingual platform for multiple users. Chabra introduced the Shifa Care app in 65 languages to minimize linguistic, geographical, and cost barriers for India’s diverse population. Shifa Care has 3000 registered doctors on the scheme, forecasting 20000 daily medical consultations and 4 million annual consultations. According to their impact, trend, geographic and demographic parameters, the analytics solution works on mapping diseases. It has built several crypto-backed security features to protect it as the company collects data (13).