The second most populous country in the world may be limited in its healthcare capacities, but that could soon be changing.
India has been a country with over a billion people for a while now. One of the fastest developing countries is now overpopulated. A surge in lifestyle diseases, an aging population and a steady increase in disposable income have contributed to a growing demand for healthcare in the country. Given the circumstances, the present healthcare scenario isn’t exactly reassuring. An over reliance on outdated healthcare infrastructure hinders progress. Moreover, healthcare is largely concentrated in urban areas and dominated by players from the private sector. To cap it off, most of the population remains medically un-insured.
Despite these shortcomings, healthcare is projected to grow from $81.3 billion in 2014 to $280 billion by 2020.
Efficient healthcare innovation is approaching
The reason for a large projected growth in healthcare is simply thrifty innovation. In sectors where resources are limited, thrifty innovation is extremely applicable. Smart innovation marries efficient manufacturing with low-cost operational models. This concept of thrifty innovation makes it feasible to deliver newer technology to sectors that lack requisite funding and resources. It paves the way for lower prices without deteriorated quality, increases scope for bulk sales and is based on efficient operational models.
The Indian government spends meager amounts on public health and infrastructure. This affects the rural areas worst of all. In this scenario, private sector enterprises are shifting towards catering to the needs of those at the bottom of the period to a larger extent. Established players in the sectors are strategizing cost-cutting to cater to a larger market that provides inclusive healthcare services. Newer entrants kick-start while consistently accounting for those below the poverty line right from the get go.
Surprisingly, the trend of cost-effective innovation in healthcare isn’t a new model in India. It’s been in practice since a long time. Consider the case of specialty hospital chain Arvind Eye Care, following a non-profit model. It enables their ability to cater to the needs of their poorest patients through subsidies. This they do by making up costs with their more affluent patrons. Established premium hospital chains such as Apollo, Wockhardt are doubling down in their efforts to cater to the less affluent in tier-2 and tier-3 cities across the country. Making products affordable has been on the manifesto of players such as GE Healthcare for a while now. Their PET/CT scanning systems are economical and take considerably less time too. Recent start-up Biosense’s product ToucHb removes the need to draw blood to check for anaemia, in a country where 50% of women are anaemic.
The proof is in the pudding with regards to global healthcare solutions being adapted to suit the Indian scenario.
A prescription that fits the bill
Healthcare is definitely not a one-size-fits-all sector. The demands of an Indian market need to be catered to across the board, including those in the lower rungs of the socio-economic pyramid. Bringing innovation from across the seas and adapting said innovation to a scalable, profitable and low-cost model is clearly the right approach. Nor is technology compromised, nor the needs of the many shunned; thrifty innovation is the perfect injection of hope the healthcare sector needs. It’s a prescription with the right solutions and it promises to fit in the budget of those at the bottom of the pyramid. Homegrown healthcare is on the rise in India and judging by the pace at which it is growing, it is bound to taste success in no time at all.