Making India a Health Technology Hub

05 Mar 2020

The Indian healthcare industry is expected to play a key role in realising the nation’s vision of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2024. Technological advancements have revolutionised the status-quo of industries across the globe, including the healthcare industry. The global health-tech sector is expected to reach $297 billion by 2022, registering a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13.2 percent from 2016 to 2022.

The global health-tech landscape paints a promising picture for India as it has the potential of becoming a health-tech hub. Factors contributing to this include
the rise in medical tourism, increased participation by private players in the health-tech sector, a large population with growing healthcare demands, and proven expertise in the software services sector.

A Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) report on ‘Making India a Health Tech Hub’ identifies opportunities that would be instrumental in accelerating the growth of the outcome-based tech-healthcare sector in India. 

Over the last decade, there has been a proliferation of Indian health-tech start-ups operating in three major key markets – digital products and services, wearables, and clinical devices.  As part of a survey, CII interviewed 15 start-up founders, and all of them opined that more investment must be done in innovative and clinical devices, rather than relying on an almost saturated market that provides digital products and services. 

The health-tech ecosystem face difficulties on the grounds of low awareness and receptivity, infrastructure bottlenecks, low public health expenditure, and lack of a national unique identifier. 

The report goes on to suggest that a conducive business environment, clearer government policies, and increased expenditure on public health are some of the factors essential for the growth of health-tech in India.

Apart from the aforementioned factors, steps like Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to digitalise at a faster pace, collaborations within domestic and foreign businesses to invest in more technology-driven healthcare products and services will accelerate the health-tech sector growth in India.

Representation of Indian companies on global platforms is another issue that could be tackled by allocating funds to industry bodies like CII under Market Access Initiatives of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry  to showcase India’s capabilities in the health-tech space. 

Although the hospitals have implemented Hospital Information Systems (HIS), matching patient records when exchanging them between HIS of healthcare organisations is a challenge due to the lack of mandate for Aadhar or any other unique identifier to match patient records.

Data is the new oil. Therefore, it is pertinent to protect it with strict data sharing and privacy laws. Implementation of a health-related information exchange act or policy in India will ensure interoperability and data security across hospitals.

CII recommended action points for making India a health tech-hub by 2024

The vision for making India a health-tech hub in the next five years (2019-24) has challenges. Below are some of the key recommendations for Government and business to deal with those challenges and create opportunities for the future.

For Government

  • Work with industry bodies to enable evidence-based policymaking
  • Leverage digital technologies to link health system and records across private and public hospitals for better patient care
  • Create a National Health Grid
  • Provide incentives under Make in India & Serve in India programs
  • Mandate health-tech courses in mainstream medical courses
  • Enhance India’s health-tech products and services export potential 

For Businesses

  • Be a part of Industry 4.0 by focusing on effective usage of technology
  • Work closely with industry organisations for understanding consumer preferences
  • Work with the Government for creating a blueprint to enhance exports of health-tech
  • Study experiences in other markets and identify schemes for promoting the health-tech sector
  • Invest in R&D

Different stakeholders in the healthcare eco-system should work in tandem, arrive at a common agenda, and collaborate with the Government to develop India as a health-tech hub.

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