There are all kinds of facts, figures, and guesses floating around right now as to what will be the top healthcare challenges and trends in 2015 and beyond. The Indian healthcare sector alone is estimated to touch $160 billion in 2017 – roughly double from what it was in 2012 (according to a report by Equentis Capitals) resulting in the CAGR growth rate of about 15%. There are a bunch of factors such as easier access to good healthcare services, relative increase in incomes and more emphasis on health awareness all contributing to this growth. Not just this, there is a significant demand in the quality of healthcare services in Tier-II and Tier-III cities which means people are recognizing the need for specialty-care.
India’s obvious advantage is the large pool of medical professionals and the dramatically lower medical costs as compared to other Asian and western countries. The surgeries reportedly cost one-tenth of that in US or Europe, making it a lucrative location for medical tourism and even R&D. Other than being widely known to be an English speaking country, alternative techniques like Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Yoga and Unani make it stand out when compared to other competing south-east Asian and middle-eastern countries.
Technology will be a game changer in the manner in which healthcare services will be delivered in India. The private sector will be the major driving force behind technology adoption in the Indian healthcare segment. To optimize costs and effectively manage operations, IT solutions will become an integral part of process management, patient care and the Management Information System (MIS) in hospitals. With the health insurance sector poised for major growth in the coming decade, increasing demand from this sector for more efficient systems for storage and retrieval of information will put pressure on hospitals and other healthcare providers to imbibe technology to modernize existing infrastructure.
The convergence of healthcare with upcoming technologies such as Cloud Computing and wireless technologies will play a key role in improving accessibility and meeting the challenge of manpower shortage. The coming years are expected to witness greater deployment of tools such as Telemedicine, Teleradiology, Hospital Information Systems (HIS)/Hospital Management Information Systems (HMIS), online or Electronic Medical Records (EMR), etc.
It is estimated that there will be over 550 million internet users in 2018.
In India, there will be an estimated 200M smartphone users by 2016.
Online healthcare has increased communication among various people. It is not only making doctors and hospitals more accessible to patients, it is also helping patients connect with other patients. People want to read real stories not just to be informed, but to be inspired. Furthermore, it is assisting people to learn more about their bodies and give all kinds of health information to potential patients- making them aware of treatment options and preventive measures.
Doctors are connecting with other doctors across the world. This global shift in digital healthcare is making it possible for people to receive more personalized and precise medicine and health services – reducing errors and cost, in turn, improving quality and providing easier access to medical facilities.
India is home to a majority of people who are referred to doctors by family and relatives or by word-of-mouth. Making people believe that their health issues can be handled through the internet is a real problem. Building trust among these people can spell great success for healthcare portals.
Another point to note is that there are several healthcare start-ups focusing solely on ‘booking appointments’, and not many players in the hospitalization space. In India, the domestic hospitalization industry is a total of $280 billion (according to a McKinsey report), while the international hospitalization industry is indicated to be about $4 + billion (according to a report by Ministry of Health/KPMG 2014). This means, massive business for start-ups like Credihealth, who are adopting hospitalization as their forté.