How Startups Can Energize Healthcare Sector

(This guest post is part of the Think Next thought leadership series)

In the second most populous country of the world, where digitization is the buzz word, it is no wonder that a very traditional and closed industry like healthcare is now turning to startups to resolve long standing issues. The need is not out of inability to work out solutions.

How Startups Can Energize Healthcare Sector

The need has arisen because of the realization that while traditional healthcare companies should improve on the basic requirement of the industry, such as cheaper medicines, facilities etc., Startups can focus on addressing the delivery model challenges that the industry faces. Healthcare startups today can help reduce costs, increase revenue and cut red tape for customers, healthcare practitioners and service providers.

Check Up of the Industry

Basis the 2015 survey by InnAccel, 90% of healthcare startups are working in preventive healthcare segment and monitoring solutions segment. Today, diagnostic centers, hospitals and doctors can be found through one swipe. This is a far cry from as recently as 2000, when doctors were mainly consulted via recommendation and hospitals were visited basis the proximity of the center. While companies like Praxify are using traditional technologies such as data analytics in healthcare and making valuable and intelligent information available to doctors about their patients, companies like Healthifyme are making healthy lifestyle available to individuals via smartphones. In a conservative sector like Healthcare, Think Next 2016 was a revelation. The disruption that is happening is this sector is phenomenal and the longer the sector waits to accept the startup propellant, the more laggard it will become.

Praxify presenting at Think Next Market Access Program

Praxify presenting at Think Next Market Access Program

This is an absolute truth. Praxify, an India based healthcare startup has been able to serve 100’s of hospitals worldwide while Practo, a Bangalore based healthcare startup, is the largest online clinic management software provider in terms of market share. The adoption of technology in this sector is very high. India must catch up. The fact that Healthifyme has half a million users, many under the paid model, shows that the audience is ready to use technology for healthcare. Not only has that, Daily Rounds, a mobile based academic network for doctors, close to 50000 registered doctors. It is a clear indication that the market is ripe for technology to change the face of the sector.

[also read: How startups are changing the BFSI industry in India]

Need of the Hour

As is the case with the sector, trust plays a big role in the startup healthcare sector. Companies, traditional or startup, will need to work hard to create an environment where people are comfortable using technology. One way of doing this is to bring within reach, services or benefits that were earlier not possible. A constant monitoring of a patient via bands and/or mobile cameras to give an on demand update via a smartphone app would really be a great product, both for the caretaker and for the doctors. Similarly an intelligent bot, enabled with machine learning, which helps in answering patient queries while the doctor is performing a surgery again sounds like a product that will help the sector build trust with its audience. What the healthcare industry needs is an eye on how to tackle current requirements dictated by lifestyle, region, demographics and financial capabilities.

Services are not the only place where startups are helping. Financial transactions related to healthcare is another area where startups have a big role to play. With banks now enabling scan & pay, the process of completing hospital billings and insurance claims can be revolutionized by startups. It will also bring to fore a direct connect of biometric data of UID and its open source transaction authentication API capabilities. Startups can use these systems available via the India Stack to create better user experience in the healthcare sector.

[also read:  India’s Digital Transformation and the Role of Startups in that Journey]

Conjoint Action

Co-innovation is the need of the hour. Our experience with Stempeutics proves that. Only recently, we achieved a milestone where Stempeutics became only the third company in the world to create human drug via stem cells and is perhaps India’s best drug discovery company. While the startup worked on the discovery, we were able to add tremendous value on the backend by providing the right scale up opportunities, manufacturing, clinical accuracy etc. We didn’t get involved in their processes, but we guided the company in the right direction on things to focus on. That, we think is the major collaboration point for startups and pharma companies. Knowing the field for so long, and understanding the areas where real disruption is needed, pharma companies can identify areas of improvement and startups can provide the required solution. From manufacturing, to distribution to patient care. All the process can be covered. The gap between the acceptance of technology by the consumers and the acceptance of technology by Indian Corporates needs to be bridged. Startups will allow that to happen.

This will not only create a better healthcare service availability, but will also create a larger market for everyone. It is a double benefit process. Reaching to rural markets via technology and having better health service available in these areas is something the government will also allow even in a heavily regulated market like India. This is where accelerators like Microsoft Accelerator play such a big role. Like mentioned before, healthcare sector works on trust. When a trusted company like Microsoft brings forth a tech startup to an institutional pharma company, they are more chance of them being heard and get adopted. Together, therefore, there is a great opportunity to coinnovate a better experience for everyone.

(The views and opinions expressed in guest posts are solely those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views held by Cipla).