India has more than 5 million qualified professionals working in the healthcare industry. There are around 1 million doctors and 2.5 million nurses. This workforce is growing at a rate of more than 10% per annum.
If India is a puzzle to you, this short interview with Mayank Sharma, one of the owners ofMedhoop – a platform for healthcare professionals and industry in India, will give you a nice introduction into the current state of the trends in the digital health startup community in India. And why it is a good investment to take part in events such asMedical Fair India 2017, held from 6-8 April in New Delhi.
“We aim to create an ecosystem in the healthcare industry for all the industry stakeholders. Everyone, from medical students, colleges and teaching institutes, healthcare providers, Health-tech, medical devices and consumables industry, thought leaders and startups, can connect seamlessly and grow together,” This is Sharma’s brief description of Medhoop. The size of the country is keeping the healthcare industry in India fragmented. The disconnect is making the industry inefficient and uncompetitive. For this reason, digital health development is so much more promising here.
Let’s start with the basics. What are the three digital health trends to watch out for in India?
The Indian healthcare industry is now growing 360 degrees. Healthcare providers are not only focusing on developing world class healthcare physical infrastructure, but also on integrating technology. All this aims at making treatment and information closer to patients. Among major trends I would highlight mobile health (mHealth), on-demand healthcare, EHR/EMR solutions, healthcare aggregators and telemedicine.
How developed are these segments?
The mHealth space is probably the hottest in the segment. It is being further augmented by wearable gadgets that monitor health statics on a real-time basis. There are startups integrating existing technologies with concepts like telemedicine, doctor on call and remote monitoring of patients. On-demand healthcare is fit for an urban population which seeks everything instantly. If possible, they want it available on their smartphones. Startups understand this need. EHR industry is on the rise, looking to capture all the information they can. Not only to provide better health care for patients, but also for system improvements. From cutting treatment costs, research purposes, giving patients access to their health records online, to changes in regulatory environment.
What does the startup community in India look like?
“Today India is among the top countries in terms of growth of startups. It is exciting, buzzing with innovation, passion and energy.”
India has been a country of startups for a long time. But the real recognition is happening now – with the rise of Startups Unicorns. We have Flipkart, Snapleal, Taxi aggregator Uber (prime competitor to Uber in India), online payment solution Paytm. Social media and growing internet penetration has opened an altogether new growth avenue for startups.
What about the digital health community specifically?
The digital healthcare community in India is growing at a very rapid pace. From hospital/doctor appointment booking solutions, EHRs, diagnostic lab aggregators, mobile health devices – innovation and new ideas all around. Today we see a lot more entrepreneurs in the digital health and healthcare space compared to 5-8 years ago.
What contributed to this acceleration?
At first, the healthcare community has been hostile to new technologies and experiments due to the inherent nature of its business. But slowly, the awareness levels and aspirations of doing things faster and better is positively affecting healthcare innovations and digital health technology. Companies like Practo have already made it big and are serving international markets already.
Which cities are leading in terms of accelerating innovation? How does Delhi rank in this community?
Bangalore leads the list, closely followed by Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai. Not surprisingly, we also have beautiful healthcare and health-tech ideas coming out from comparatively smaller cities like Jaipur and Ahmedabad. I myself come from Hathras, a very small town, and now residing in Delhi, so let’s say innovation has no boundaries.
What were the digital health biggest investments in 2016?
There is significant development and a number of startups working on services like pharmacy or lab services aggregators, remote monitoring healthcare devices and online doctor or hospital discovery. Startups which attracted major investments in 2016 were majorly from the SaaS segment. Practo, Healthkart, 1mg, and Goqii were among the front runners in a list of healthcare investments by investors.
“There is significant development and a number of startups working on services like pharmacy or lab services aggregators, remote monitoring healthcare devices and online doctor or hospital discovery.”
Which are your Top 3, 7 or 10 startups for 2017?
This is a tough question for such an exciting space like digital healthcare in India. But if I divide the digital healthcare space into segments, I would say the following: In-Doctor Networkspace: the two companies clearly standing out are DocPlexus and Curofy. Both of them are fulfilling the need of doctors to be able to consult cases online right from their mobile phones and build their own professional network. It would be interesting to see what route they take next.
In-Doctor Discoverysegment: booking platform Practo had disrupted the industry before anyone could even think of an idea such as online booking of appointments. Lybrate (online doctor database gives you access to over 90,000 highly trained medical experts) has been able to stick it out in 2016 and will, it seems, continue to do so. Then there is CrediHealth, with the tagline ‘Your Medical Assistance’ doing exactly the same. Within its services, it offers second opinions, doctor selection and surgery planning to an altogether other level. I am sure these companies will be further innovating and disrupting this space.
Where can Startups present their solution to the wider public? Are there many events such Medical Fair India?
There are multiple events on medical equipment, lab equipment, medical specialty-specific devices and pharma in India.
You are a partner of Medical Fair India. Where do you see the benefit of this collaboration?
It matches with our belief that as a healthcare ecosystem partner, we have a responsibility to represent all the healthcare stakeholders and engage with them. This year Medical Fair India combines equal opportunities for healthcare companies as well as medical and healthcare technology startups, which is an encouraging trend.
What can startups expect from Medical Fair India?
The most important part of such expositions and fairs is networking with various industry stakeholders. Participation offers understanding of new dimensions of the industry, understanding the demands, meeting customers, buyers and a lot more. This season Medical Fair India integrates FTR4H (Future For Health) platform where healthcare technology startups can participate. Medhoop also plays a critical role of bringing these startups to forefront, connecting them with industry, prospective customers, investors and a lot more. Among other things, we are organising mentorship hours for startups. So there is a lot for startups to gain.