India has emerged as one of the fastest-growing digital economies in the last decade. The healthcare sector in India has embraced digital transformation to improve quality of care and accessibility to more patients. The digital healthcare market in India was valued at INR 116.61 Billion in 2018, and is estimated to reach INR 485.43 Billion by 2024, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of ~27.41% during the 2019–2024 period1. The healthtech startup industry in India was growing rapidly even before the COVID-19. The pandemic has further accelerated the push to improve healthcare for all.
In my previous blog on leveraging technology to combat COVID-19, I shared my personal experiences of using technology, cloud computing and AI to mitigate some of the initial challenges faced by hospitals in fighting against the coronavirus. In this blog, we’ll look at the latest trends in healthcare that leverage different aspects of technological advancements and changing needs of Indian consumer. The biggest 4 trends in healthtech are -
- Wearables & Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
- Electronic Health Record (EHR)
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
In part 1 of this blog, I will share insights on telehealth and wearable devices — the market, advantages and challenges in adoption. In part 2, I will cover the trends in EHR and AI. Let’s explore the first two trends below.
Telehealth broadly refers to electronic and telecommunications technologies used to provide care and services remotely. The telehealth market in India is estimated to reach USD 5.5 billion by 2025. Some examples of telemedicine services are video consultation with specialists, remote medical diagnosis and evaluations, psycho-therapy sessions over video/audio calls and the list goes on.
Advantages of telehealth:
Telehealth provides access to care for people with mobility challenges, elderly patients or people who are unable to get time off work. However, the biggest advantage of telehealth for a country like India is to expand the reach of healthcare services to remote parts of the country with lack of necessary infrastructure. Using telemedicine services, healthcare providers can:
- serve patients remotely without having them enter hospital premises, thereby reducing exposure to coronavirus and other types of flu conditions
- treat patients in urgent need of care in conditions where immediate assistance is needed and cannot wait for the patient to commute to the hospital facility
- reach patients who cannot afford to travel long distances to urban areas
- increase patient engagement in their health and wellbeing journey by promoting self monitoring of body vital statistics
- transcend geographical, economic, socio-political conditions and treat all patients equally
Challenges for telehealth adoption:
- Lack of strict regulations for maintaining data and patient privacy
- Lack of companies targeting the rural markets
- Lack of awareness and trust of using virtual consultation among general population
#2: Wearables & IoMT
The rapid rise of digitization and consumer involvement in almost all industries has led to huge shifts in the mindset of people to use technology in healthcare to reduce cost and increase access to care with least effort. There has been a surge in use of fitness bands and associated mobile apps for weight management. Most folks use wearables for counting footsteps, activity tracking, sleep monitoring and fitness management. However, the use of wearables and IoMT devices has huge potential in changing the way you take care of your lifestyle, health and well-being. In the second quarter of 2019, the Indian wearable market grew at 30.9% Q-o-Q and 123.6% compared to the same quarter in 20182.
The wearables and IoMT devices market encapsulates:
- Wearables: fitness bands, smart watches and Biosensors (self-adhesive patch)
- Implant devices: Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator(ICDs) and pacemakers
- Vital Sign Monitors (Pulse Oximeters, Temperature Monitor, Brain Monitoring (EEG), Blood Pressure Monitors, Heart Rate Monitor (ECG), Respiratory Rate Monitor);
- Special Monitors (Blood Glucose Monitors, Respiratory Monitor, Anesthesia Monitors, Cardiac Rhythm Monitor, Fetal Heart Monitors, Multi-Parameter Monitors (MPM), Prothrombin Monitors)
Advantages & Challenges:
You are already aware of using fitness bands or smart watches for weight and fitness management. However, these are preliminary use cases. The real advantage of wearables and IoMT devices in self-care at home, chronic condition management and continuous/remote patient monitoring.
Cost of devices is still a concern, although the cost is declining as the wearable industry grows more competitive. Data privacy and risk of data theft pose serious concerns in storage of data for personal use or sharing with doctors.
In the next blog, we will continue the discussion on trends and explore the remaining two trends on EHR and AI.