Why investors are betting big on the Indian Healthcare sector

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There are tremendous growth opportunities in the sector as India battles with the gap of providing real time, quality and affordable healthcare solutions across geographies. With the increasing demand of quality healthcare services, the sector offers a huge scope for aspiring entrepreneurs.

India: Investor’s paradise

Healthcare is driven by need and not by want, this nature makes it a rapidly growing sector. The patients’ aspiration for sophisticated healthcare treatment is rising along with adoption of healthcare technology. Increasing population and fast changing lifestyle are making this sector a money-spinning opportunity for investments. The current life trends and advantages of high manpower, lower cost and sophisticated treatments are making this sector lucrative and drawing attentions of foreign investments.

In the last few years, India has been garnering strong investor interests in the healthcare sector. The healthcare sector received about $ 679 million (H1 2018) and this number is expected double by 2021 and is expected to create over 40 million jobs by the same period.

The healthcare sector in India faces many challenges with regards to population, infrastructure, delivery model, technology, geographical distribution, investments and the PPP model. Policy support, growth of technology and adoption of them by private players to build state-of-the-art medical facilities has given impetus to the sector and various investor groups are now looking at building phygital (Physical and/or Digital) infrastructure to strengthen their segment presence.Large PE investors are also looking at gaining entry through technology foray or acquisition of established healthcare infrastructure as the gap between demand and supply provides them with a huge opportunity for growth in India.

Building sector capacity:

For a population of over 1.2 billion people, India has just over 800,000 active doctors and this number needs to drastically grow by over 2 million by 2030 to reach the 1:1000 doctor patient ratio. Doctors, on the other hand, form just one part of the entire healthcare chain. Infrastructure (hospitals, dispensaries, pharmacies, primary healthcare centre), technology, pharmaceutical companies, scientist and investors formthe remaininglinks of the healthcare chain. India has a strong education system and the country is now also focussing on building sector capacity through infrastructure development, policy overhauls and technology growth.

Growth opportunities in the healthcare sector:

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Nilesh Jain

Hospital units like diabetes, cardiac oncology, orthopaedic centres, day-care surgeries, and cancer clinics are new emerging segments. Entrepreneurs who have clear vision with good ideas are fast attracting attention of private equity & venture debt capital

There are multiple factors that provide huge growth opportunities for investors for building up a strong healthcare infrastructure in India. Few of the pressing issues are:

The gap in the delivery model:

The Indian healthcare delivery model has been historically been focussed on metro locations and the gap in delivery model with regards to providing facilities in non metro locationshave been a huge challenge for the sector.The two major challenges was the cost of developing infrastructure and deploying trained medical practitioners. Even at the present rate, only 3 per cent specialists cater to rural patients and a gap of over 2 millions hospital beds to effectively serve its population. There are only 7 hospital beds per 10,000 people.

The private sector has been fuelling this demand by setting up hospitals in tier I, II and III locations but the challenge of trained medical practitioners to cater to these patients is still unmet.

Over $200 billion is expected to be spent by 2020 in developing medical infrastructure in India.

Medical Tourism:

India ranks amongst the top 10 destinations for medical tourism globally and offers one of the best and cost effective healthcare options compared to other developed and developing countries of the world. The country has nearly one million tourists arriving on medical visas every year and this segment is is expected to be a $7-8 billion market by 2020.

Medical Devices:

Aging population, rising lifestyle diseases and medical tourism is expected to propel the medical devices industry to be a $11 billion industry by 2022. This role of technology in providing real time diagnostics and monitoring facilities will provide further growth boost to the device manufacturing industry.

Redefining services:

Healthcare technology, based on AI and ML, has taken various strides to create a stronger delivery model and redefine patient management to care management. Hospitals and care givers are now moving from predictive healthcare solutions to preventive healthcare options through EHR (Electronic Health Records) to cater and care for patients even post hospitalization. Continuous monitoring of vital parameters, digital records of all medication & data, genomics, lifestyle and past medical history can be analysed to presict future ailments that can be prevented through medical care and lifestyle changes. Similarly, integrating various in-house departments and third party providers seamlessly into one system has built inroads for a higher degree of patient care and hospital management based on technology transfer and data management.

The adoption of technology has been slow and limited to few hospital chains in India. As technology becomes affordable and value driven, the growth of this segment will redefine the traditional healthcare delivery model.

Home healthcare and Telemedicine:

Increasing elderly population, growing health awareness and rising lifestyle diseases will demand a larger need for medical assistance and physical infrastructure. India’s elderly population is expected to rise to 168 million by 2026, by over 68% from the current number.

Home healthcare and Telemedicine, on the back of strong technology, will witness growth as healthcare situations can be monitored on a real tome basis and effective solutions can deployed at home by care-takers on advice.

Healthcare Hub:

With the aim to develop India as a global healthcare hub, the government has introduced favourable policies to attract FDI in the sector.

[This is an authored article by  Nilesh Jain, co-founder of Clinivantage Healthcare Technologies. All views, opinions and expressions are personal and limited to the author.]