Mr. Vikram Thaploo, CEO, Apollo Telehealth (largest and oldest multi-specialty telemedicine network in the world. A unit of Apollo Hospitals Group,)
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in massive disruptions across different industries and the healthcare industry has definitely been hit hard. But thankfully, the healthcare industry effectively managed the outbreak owing to full support from the central and state governments. Although there has been slow adaptation of digital tools in the healthcare industry, everything changed with the outbreak of the pandemic. The effect of healthcare technology and digital solutions was felt in many different ways than we could have expected. During the lockdown, both the patients and the healthcare practitioners realized the importance of digitisation.
The pandemic has almost entirely changed how the healthcare industry in India operates. With telehealth, hospitals are now also concerned about reaching patients online, how to deliver and protect patient information. Telemedicine and remote patient monitoring are being increasingly adopted by service providers to virtually manage patients, predict and prevent illnesses, and improve clinical outcomes. There’s been almost an 80 per cent rise in consumption of digital healthcare services after COVID-19. Digital technologies like extended reality, cloud systems, big data, and artificial intelligence are taking the center stage to enhance user- experience and increase process efficiency. These technologies have accelerated digital Health, remote patient monitoring and timely clinical protocols. In the coming years too, digital health applications & therapeutics, personal health wearables, and AI, NLP(neural language processing), robotics process automation or the RPA-enabled process accelerators in clinical prediction, operational transformation and compliance improvement will further drive and shape the future of healthcare.
Mr. Nikkhil K Masurkar, Executive Director, Entod Pharmaceutical (specializes in Ophthalmology, Dermatology and ENT)
The healthcare market can increase three-fold to Rs. 8.6 trillion (US$ 133.44 billion) by 2022. In 2020, in a very short period, Covid-19 became an unparalleled disruption to every area of the healthcare industry. The overall response to the pandemic witnessed both the private and government sector working in tandem. The private Indian healthcare players rose to the occasion and have been providing all the support that the government needs, such as testing, isolation beds for treatment, medical staff and equipment at government COVID-19 hospitals and home healthcare. The healthcare industry, along with the central and state governments, undertook a robust response plan to tackle the pandemic by setting up dedicated COVID-19 hospitals, isolation centers and tech-enabled mapping of resources. Despite initial hiccups, the healthcare system in India managed to withstand the pandemic.
The different efforts in manufacturing of medical equipment, disposables, drugs and the most recent vaccine efforts made by India has placed us as a global leader. Primary healthcare has become accessible to the needy and poor through digital interventions. Even in areas like clinical trials, there is less intervention in terms of human repetitive reviews due to use of technological tools like Artificial Intelligence (AI). The Indian healthcare sector is diversifying and opportunities are emerging in every segment, be it providers, payers or medical technology. With growing competition, organizations are cognisant of new challenges and are looking to explore the latest business dynamics and trends impacting their segment. India is full of opportunities for players in the medical devices industry. The country has also become one of the leading destinations for high-end diagnostic services with tremendous capital investment for advanced diagnostic facilities, thus catering to a greater proportion of population. The country’s competitive advantage lies in the increased success rate of Indian companies in getting Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) approvals. India also offers vast opportunities in R&D as well as medical tourism. After the pandemic, governments and organizations are more focused towards building digital infrastructure and preventive healthcare which will surely pave the way to a brighter future for the healthcare industry in the years to come. ENTOD has grown by 45% year on year (YOY) in the Ophthalmic and Otological market as per the IQVIA MAT Nov 21 data. We have also gained the maximum market share 0.93% in this segment during this period. We expect to maintain the same growth in the next financial year too due to the momentum generated in the market and the launch of our new divisions, new innovative products and proposed increased field force numbers.
Mr. Ashok Patel, CEO and Founder, Max Ventilator(India’s leading ventilator manufacturer)
Doctors say that the pandemic will always be there till at least 6 years. So all the businesses are prepared to deal with it. Even as Covid-19 has led to the rise of diagnostics and equipment along with an impressive rise in virtual and homecare-driven device segments, there has been an increased emphasis on making low-cost lifesaving devices such as ventilators and oxygen concentrators. Speaking especially of ventilators, from now onwards, the rule of 4 beds per ventilator will become more of a reality.
With telemedicine and app-based online pharmacies becoming more of a constant surrounding our daily lives spurring innovations in related devices and equipment, the coming year will also see more action in big data, AI and machine learning-based disease prediction technologies, apart from a push to more sophisticated surgical devices meant for a range of conditions such as neurological, cardio-vascular, oncological, orthopedic or musculosketal conditions. However I must add that for AI-based ventilators to become a reality, more time would be needed. While make-in-India has gained momentum with the view to become more self-reliant, the Chinese products have received a setback. This means that quality will determine the entry of new products and more rigorous quality checks will increasingly become a norm. The coming year will also see major investment and focus on medical device components and parts in the country. At the same time, given the surging omicron cases outside India and a repeat of the same not totally being out of question in India, Covid-related devices and equipment will continue to remain a focus of attention of manufacturers in the country in the coming year.
Dr H S Chhabra, Director, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre
“The year 2021 was a challenging one for India’s health sector, as the lethal second wave of coronavirus struck. As a result, an unprecedented number of people lost their lives and there was unparalleled suffering for countless others. It did, however, serve as a valuable lesson for the entire healthcare industry, leading to the resurrection and upgrading of health infrastructure in both the public and private sectors.
We not only have a completely functional oxygen plant but are also now fully equipped to face new challenges, such as Omicron, with a team of experienced doctors and paramedical staff. As we approach 2022, I strongly advise everyone to take both the doses of the vaccine, if already not taken. Also, continue to observe social distancing measures, wear masks, practise hand hygiene and adhere to all the guidelines issued by the Indian government.”
Dr Aashish Chaudhry, Managing Director, Aakash Healthcare, Dwarka
“Aakash Healthcare is ready for 2022, with a solid infrastructure in place to help counteract the possibility of Covid’s third wave. Since last year, the hospital has been working in close collaboration with the government to provide critical care to COVID-19 patients in the pandemic, and has earned the reputation of being one of the most sought-after centres for personalized care during COVID times. As the New Year approaches, we hope to complete the trials for the children’s Covid vaccine.
As a part of our overall development and expansion plans, we will establish a World Class Bone and Joint program/hospital in Gurgaon by next year. The new venture will serve as an Orthopedics, Joint Replacement, and Spine Hospital. In addition, we intend to open a new Cancer Hospital in Dwarka. which will provide comprehensive cancer care including Radiation and BMT (Bone Marrow Transplant).
We are almost about to launch our State of the art Liver Transplant Program at our existing Dwarka Hospital, Multiple clinics as well as Super Speciality Hospitals are about to crop up in North India. A couple of our international projects are also in the pipe line for 2022.”