MedTech Ecosystem in India: Where Are We Headed?
Here’s one glaring stat that shows how desperately India is gasping for growth in the MedTech arena — India’s doctor-patient ratio stood at 1: 1445 in 2019! This means there is just one allopathic doctor for 1445 patients, while WHO recommends 1:1000. With an ever-increasing population and ailments, the MedTech space looks like the saviour the country needs.
To understand the vision for the MedTech ecosystem in India, we spoke to Dr Paul Salins. He is the Chairman at MSMF TBI, Managing Director at MSMF, Medical Director at Mazumdar Shaw Medical Foundation, and Sr. Vice President at Narayana Hrudayalaya.
Commenting on the subject, Dr Salins says, “What India needs today is not just low-cost, affordable inventions. We need drivers in the MedTech industry. For doing so, we need to adopt a scientific outlook to understand the problems in India.”
The Road Ahead
Innovative science enabling Affordable & Accessible Healthcare
India has a massive population, which is why the vision for MedTech solutions is that they can be accessible and make every citizen and community stakeholders in healthcare. Dr Salins advocates two powerful game-changers for bringing scalability
- Shift in focus from only hospital-based technology to personal and community MedTech solutions and
- Technology to empower our indigenous AYUSH medical systems to seamlessly integrate with modern medicine to expand healthcare access.
The greatest area where MedTech seeds promise is diagnostics. The vision of technology must now change from passively reproducing medical diagnostic targets to actively discovering new ways of predictive diagnostics that predict the onset of disease and enable early management at low cost. Affordability and efficiency in diagnostics would then be an automatic consequence. Engineers build massive miracles of glass and steel, monsters that fly to Mars because of such predictive capability is inherent to engineering thinking but largely absent in Medical sciences. says Dr. Salins
In India, we should come up with such new ways of thinking and transforming diagnostics. That’s how we can leverage our scientific acumen, ancient medical heritage, and massive population needs to become global leaders in healthcare Dr Salins says
Home-Based Care & Infrastructure
It is important to strengthen the current medical infrastructure in sync with the growing healthcare needs of India. But moving beyond the hospital-healthcare system is the need of the hour, especially keeping in mind the COVID-19 pandemic. With more and more people being hesitant to go to hospitals, home-based MedTech devices are in demand — devices that can be used in all kinds of settings.
Dr Salins sheds more light on this by saying, “There has to be a pause and reconsideration of the entire landscape of application of technology. How are we going to create a new generation of solutions that are applicable in a slum as well as in an urban area, to people of all ages.”
Understanding the Roots & Make-In-India
Dr Salins asks some thought-provoking questions, “What was the richness of our own medical system? This needs to be captured. Do ancient medical practices really work? How do we capture that sort of science? How do we scale it efficiently and optimally?”
With a strong impetus for the Make-in-India campaign for everything – MedTech too is showing that change. It’s time to go back to the roots, assess our ancient practices, and look at those from a scientific perspective and an open mind. For instance, India’s 1:1445 doctor-patient ratio can be brought down to 1:860 if all fields of medicine could be considered in MedTech and not just allopathy.
Getting a Headstart With Incubation
Business incubation in the MedTech space can help India grow faster and come up with smarter and relevant MedTech solutions. Dr Salins, who is also on the Investments Committee, found that the majority of entrepreneurs in the MedTech space were working in the same domain and failed to identify the USP to encourage investment.
A remarkable way to solve this is to opt for business incubation, which paves the way for mentorship. Experienced mentors can help create better innovation by identifying market needs. They can also help an entrepreneur work on the weakness and maximise the strengths that work great in securing funding and grants.
Incubators can also help entrepreneurs with networking, gaining access to clinical data, and, more importantly, connect with the hospital ecosystem. Supporting the point, Dr Salins thinks, “A hospital not only provides a place to understand the application of technology but also helps an entrepreneur understand how to create a market.”
He adds, “We used to think clinical knowledge is separate from engineer knowledge. But that isn’t very smart. A serious entrepreneur should get the context of MedTech with clinicians’ help to understand the mindset.”
The evolving MedTech space can match needs with solutions when the efforts are made in the right direction. An incubator can make that possible and help an entrepreneur adopt a futuristic outlook for the time to come.