Opportunities for MedTech startups in Home Healthcare Market in India
The home healthcare market, which is broadly divided into self-care (telemedicine) and assisted care (care by medical helpers like nurses), has witnessed a spike in demand and growth in the last few years, especially since the Covid pandemic.
This rise in the adoption of home healthcare solutions can be attributed to four factors:
- Technology has made remote consultation, diagnosis, and monitoring possible, and both
patients and healthcare facilities are slowly adopting telemedicine.
- Home healthcare reduces hospital visits, which favors both the patient and the hospital. For patients, minimizing hospital visits saves time and cost and eliminates the risk of exposure to other infections and diseases. Hospitals experience manageable patient volumes and a reduction in overall operational costs by up to 20 percent.
- The existing healthcare infrastructure in India cannot keep up with the rise in the number of patients (especially since Covid). Home healthcare greatly reduces the load on healthcare facilities.
- There is also a severe deficit of doctors in India. The doctor-patient ratio in India is around 1:1,351 as of December 2021, one of the lowest in the world. By treating non-critical patients at home through self and assisted care methods, the burden on doctors is reduced.
Indian home healthcare is still in its nascent years and contributed to only 4 percent of India’s overall healthcare market revenue in 2019. However, the increasing demand has also made it a rapidly growing market.
There is enormous potential and opportunity in this sector, which MedTech companies will have to step in and fulfill. The value of the Indian home healthcare market is poised to increase from INR 460B in 2020 to INR 3,200B by 2026.
The market is currently dominated by a few players, but
there is space for more MedTech startups to emerge.
Where do MedTech startups fit in?
Technology for remote consultation
MedTech startups will play a significant role in facilitating remote consultations between doctor and patient, which will significantly reduce the load on OPDs (outpatient departments). In fact, Indian MedTech companies like Med Tech Global and Continuous Care already provide tele-treatment solutions where everything happens remotely via an app – scheduling an appointment, consultation, prognosis, and follow-ups. MedTech companies will have to continue to deliver such and more advanced solutions that tie in other areas of healthcare like home tests, pathology reports, patient tracking within hospitals, and so on.
Technology for self and remote monitoring
Devices for monitoring patients remotely and self-monitoring will be critical technologies for home healthcare. It is, in fact, the third-fastest emerging pharma trend according to a survey by GlobalData, with telemedicine (remote consultation) being fifth:
Patients receiving critical care from home, like the elderly or someone recovering post-surgery, need round-the-clock monitoring. The ability to remotely monitor vitals will allow the hospital to discharge the patient to recover from home while continuously monitoring changes in their health.
MedTech company Polso’s wearable multiparameter monitoring device Polso Watch is an excellent example of such technology. It allows the hospital to remotely collect health data like pulse rate, oxygen levels, temperature, HRV, blood pressure, ECG, etc.
This technology does not need to be limited to critical care patients but can be tailored for healthy people or people who have recovered from an illness to catch chronic ailments faster. iOS app Corrie developed by the faculty and team at Johns Hopkins, for example, is an app that monitors the health of patients recovering from a cardiac arrest. It syncs with the patient’s Apple Watch and iPhone to monitor their core vitals, remind them of medication, schedule and follow up on consultations, etc.
In a study conducted by Johns Hopkins, only 3 percent of patients who used Corrie after being discharged were readmitted. In comparison, the readmission rate of all heart attack patients at Johns Hopkins was much higher at 19 percent.
Similar applications, wearables, and devices built for the Indian healthcare system will be essential for growing the Indian home healthcare market.
Challenges MedTechs face in the home healthcare space
The number one challenge is creating awareness, especially among patients and general users (as opposed to hospitals and healthcare personnel). MedTech providers will have to generate awareness through hospitals and doctors for the product to have credibility in patients’ eyes.
And that is the second challenge – building trust. Unlike products in other industries, healthcare products have little room for error. It can sometimes be a matter of life and death. Patients are aware of this fine line and will be apprehensive about trusting technology to facilitate medical care remotely. MedTech providers will need to prove to doctors, and medical care providers that their tech will enhance home healthcare, and doctors will need to be the ones who convince patients to adopt these solutions.
There is a general lack of trust among people in India regarding
the healthcare system, and this extends to technology.
Tackling these two challenges will automatically lead to adoption. The medical space in India
(hospitals and patients) is definitely open to home healthcare solutions, and it is a ripe area for
MedTech startups to launch into.
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