The healthcare industry in India is currently going great guns and is well and truly poised to carve a niche for itself on the global health arena. This has been possible through various proactive measures that the Government of India has adopted in order to face the massive challenge thrown upon by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Market size & potential of the Indian healthcare industry
In this regard, it is very prudent to note that the Indian healthcare industry is experiencing a boom that has been unprecedented. The healthcare market in India is slated to record a three-fold hike, increasing at a CAGR of 22% between 2016-2022 to touch US$ 372 billion by 2022 from US$ 110 billion in 2016. By FY22, Indian healthcare infrastructure is expected to reach US$ 349.1 billion.
In FY21, the gross direct premium income backed by health insurance companies grew 13.3% YoY to Rs. 58,572.46 crores (US$ 7.9 billion). The health segment has a 29.5% share in the total gross written premiums produced in the country.
According to the Economic Survey of 2022, India’s public output on healthcare was at 2.1% of GDP in the fiscal year 2021-22 as compared to 1.8% in the previous year of 2020-21.
And, there were a couple of vaccines that were produced in India, which gave a big boost to the healthcare sector in the country. One was Covaxin that was developed by Bharat Biotech and the other being Covishield that was created by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in collaboration with the UK-based Oxford’s Astrazeneca.
The vaccine duo was largely responsible in protecting the massive Indian population against the dreaded COVID-19 virus. As of March 21, 2022, over 181.52 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across the country.
The increase in the number of allopathic medical practitioners possessing qualifications (under the I.M.C. Act) registered with medical councils at the regional as well as at the national level bears a strong testimony of this fact. From being 0.83 million in 2010, the number of doctors augmented to 1.27 million in 2021.
India’s biggest strength is derived from its enormous reservoir of highly proficient medical professionals. And as far as the medical expenses are concerned, India is the much-preferred destination for being very cost-effective as compared to its other counterparts in Asia and Western countries. The cost of surgery in India is about one-tenth of that in the US or Western Europe.
The Indian medical tourism market was valued at US$ 2.89 billion in 2020 and is projected to attain US$ 13.42 billion by 2026. According to the India Tourism Statistics at a Glance 2020 report, close to 697,300 overseas patients visited India for medical treatment in 2019. In the Medical Tourism Index (MTI) for 2020-21, the Medical Tourism Association has put India in the 10th position out of 46 countries.
The magnitude of the the Indian e-health or digital health market is projected to attain US$ 10.6 billion by 2025. As of January 2022, there are 595 medical colleges in the country. According to the data provided to the Lok Sabha by the Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar, the ratio of doctor vis-a-vis population in India is 1:854, assuming that there is an 80% availability of 12.68 lakh registered allopathic doctors and 5.65 lakh AYUSH doctors.
Initiatives taken by the Indian government
The Government of India (GoI) has been very proactive to say the least and has adopted a lot of important measures to encourage and support the Indian healthcare industry to reach its optimum potential. They are mentioned as below:
- There are 117,771 Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs) that are functioning in India as of April 5, 2022. 748 e-Hospitals were started across the country in accordance with the Central Government’s ‘Digital India’ campaign during the same period.
- The Government of Meghalaya under the auspices of the Government of India inked a US$ 40-million health scheme with the World Bank for the state of Meghalaya in November 2021. This venture will enhance the standard of health services and boost the state’s capacity to tackle any forthcoming health crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Health Ministry’s e-Sanjeevani telemedicine service in September 2021, surpassed 12 million teleconsultations since its inception, facilitating patient-to-doctor consultations, from the comforts of their homes, and doctor-to-doctor consultations.
- India resumed its exports of Covid-19 vaccines to global vaccine-sharing podium COVAX in November-December 2021, after halting the shipments due to the deadly second COVID-19 wave that hit the country in April 2021. The World Health Organization (WHO), which jointly heads COVAX, had been urging India to recommence its deliveries for the initiative, especially after it provided ~4 million doses to its neighbours and allies in October 2021.
- Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, while speaking at the global COVID-19 summit in September 2021, said that India had offered its vaccine production with 95 countries and the UN peacekeeping forces. He also reiterated that India will continue its export of COVID-19 shots to other countries after more shots are augmented.
- In the same month, the Prime Minister also inaugurated the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission. The mission will link the digital health solutions of hospitals across the country with one other. This scheme enables each civilian to now obtain a virtual health identity document and their health records will be preserved digitally.
- About 11.9 lakh health IDs have been created and 3,106 doctors and 1,490 hospitals have registered on the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) portal as of May 2021.
- The GoI consented to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Denmark on a partnership in health and medicine in July 2021. The pact will focus on shared projects and technological advancement in the health segment, with the objective of enhancing the public health standing of the populations in both the nations.
- The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in a collaboration with UNICEF, held a capacity-building session for media personnel and health reporters in the North-eastern states in June 2021. The session delved on the current COVID-19 situation in India, the necessity to dispel misconceptions about COVID-19 vaccines and to reiterate the significance of COVID-19 Appropriate Behaviour (CAB).
- During the same period, Bolo Indya, a homegrown social live streaming portal, joined hands with the Ministry of AYUSH to encourage native Indian systems of medicines and care such as Siddha, Yoga, Unani and Ayurveda and enhance a healthy lifestyle among citizens. Over 10 million citizens stand to benefit through this alliance in the forthcoming year.
- Indian Defence Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh in May 2021 inaugurated the ‘Services e-Health Assistance & Tele-consultation (SeHAT)’ OPD platform to offer telemedicine services to the country’s armed forces and retired stalwarts.
- The Defence Ministry on May 17, 2021 also initiated the pilot set of anti-COVID drug, 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) that was manufactured by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a lab of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in collaboration with Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), Hyderabad.
Recent milestones in Indian healthcare
- Right now, India stands in the fourth position in luring VC investments to the health-tech sector, with a funding of US$ 4.4 billion between 2016 and 2021, with US$ 1.9 billion financed in 2021 only.
- The Phase 3 trials of India’s first intranasal vaccine against COVID-19 began in January 2022, and it is being produced by Bharat Biotech in association with the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, the US.
- HealthifyMe, a startup with a total user base of 30 million people, is adding half a million new users every month and surpassed US$ 40 million ARR in January 2022.
- Eka Care has the distinction of being the first CoWIN-endorsed organization in India, through which users could reserve their vaccination slot, download their certificate and even generate their health identity documents.
- Sputnik Light, which is a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Russia, got the green signal to conduct its Phase 3 trials in India in September 2021.
- India made its COVID-19 vaccination portal, CoWIN, an open source for all countries in July 2021. This CoWIN portal has attracted the attention of around 76 nations that are keen in utilizing the portal to monitor their national COVID-19 vaccination campaigns.
- The Union government provided its consent for Sanofi and GSK to execute late-stage clinical experiments of their protein-based vaccines in July 2021.
- AstraZeneca India in June 2021 inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Docon Technologies, a Bengaluru-based health start-up firm, to digitise 1,000 clinics across the country by executing customised electronic medical record (EMR) systems in clinics to provide doctors access to a patient’s comprehensive medical past.
Opportunities galore in Indian healthcare
The healthcare domain in India offers a plethora of prospects in very sphere that comprises of medical service providers, payers and medical technology. From being at INR 4 trillion (US$ 61.79 billion) in FY17, the medical sector in the country is projected to rise to INR 8.6 trillion (US$ 132.84 billion) by FY22 at a CAGR of 16-17%.
By 2025, the Central Government is contemplating to hike the expenses on public health by 2.5% of the nation’s GDP. Indian pharmaceutical organizations are able to procure Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) consents, which in itself is a big achievement for the country.