It is said that curiosity is the mother of all innovation. It is true as well. It is because of the series of questioning that brings in ideas. There is nothing different in the healthcare sector either, from the first vaccine to the latest treatment technology, all came from a curious question of “How and Why?” Another boost to this innovation is startups. Startup culture has somewhat made a revolutionary change in how innovation and ideas flow from one channel to the other.
While it has kept people from various walks of life on a single platform, it has made the balance work in a well-framed dynamics. Today, a lot many healthcare startups are funding researches that will in the future help innovation and new ideas turn into solid establishments. As per the Economic Times report, the new Coronavirus is not only a threat but also an opportunity. In a great sense, it is an opportunity that India can very well catch hold of and utilize.
If one has to estimate, the pressure of getting a cure for the virus is a race that every country is unintentionally running to. In the case of India, we have new health care startups that not only deal with the patients and facilities in India but abroad as well. We all are aware of the new culture of Medical Tourism, and India being a fore-runner in that as well. This has only been in the success rate due to the growing startup culture which has tapped this market in the most promising way.
What better does a combination of startup and innovation provide you? It gives an impetus to the high-end technological improvements. Even the ideas in their raw form need a mold to be well equipped to stimulate the working process. A recent development in Indian healthcare is enabling medical experts with technology so that they can manage things well. We have concepts like health wallet and prescription pads that are in news and are helping to build a stronger relationship among doctors and patients.
Taking an example of the recent developments, the point of vaccination is in great news. It is the hot iron that is supposed to be hit at the right time. Vaccines, in other words, are as much a computational/data-modeling challenge as a biological one. Surely, India should be able to spawn many startups that combine the ability to take on both challenges. Traditional information technology companies should be able to set up divisions for bio-informatics that work with traditional vaccine/pharma companies.
In a recent insight into the innovation and startup in healthcare, Niti Aayog CEO Mr. Amitabh Kant and the AYUSHMAN Bharat CEO Indu Bhushan, very well put up the various aspects of the scenario. The write-up published in The Hindu had very informatively discussed the challenges and possibilities that align the country with innovation and the roles of startups as well. It is indeed a point to notice. It must be seen in ways where the innovation is complementing extremely well with the set of a startup.
India’s burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit combined with a systematic push for the development of a start-up ecosystem has led to a plethora of innovations in health care. It is estimated that there are more than 4,000 health-care technology start-ups in India. Today, start-ups are working to bring innovative technologies and business models that leapfrog infrastructure, human resources, cost-effectiveness and efficiency challenges.
As we know, Niti Ayog itself is a shark tank, an innovative measure to cultivate ideas and research in the country. Given the statistics around the world, there has been major 10 innovation that is sourced through startup cultures around the respective country domains. Look through simple examples like, pocket-size ultrasound devices that cost 50 times less than the machines in hospitals (and connect to your phone).
Virtual reality has proved to speed up the healing process in rehabs. Artificial intelligence which is considered better than medical experts is used for spotting lung tumors. These are just some of the innovations which are moving ahead in transforming medicine at a remarkable pace. All of these have been endeavors that have been taken up by the dauntless players of the startup culture.
What is the next thing that we can hope the innovation and startup together to bring about? The recent trends, is that of the patient home care. While the west has already established it in their space, India is now very well moving forward to provide such a continuum where despite technology in great use, the human touch is not compromised.
However, despite the most challenging projects being taken up by the startups, an equal number of obstacles are always on the way. There is a known knowledge of financial strain that the startups suffer. Including that are other challenges as well. The supply side is also not in proper alignment.
Another problem in promoting start-ups is the operational liquidity crunch due to a long gestation period. Health-care start-ups spend long periods of time in the early development of their product, especially where potential clinical risks are concerned. The process of testing the idea and working prototype, receiving certifications, performing clinical and commercial validations, and raising funds, in a low-trust and unstructured environment makes the gestational period unusually long thereby limiting the operational liquidity of the start-up.
Another hurdle is the lack of incentives and adequate frameworks to grade and adopt innovations. Health-care providers and clinicians, given limited bandwidth, often lack the incentives, operational capacity, and frameworks necessary to consider and adopt innovations. This leads to limited traction for start-ups promoting innovative solutions.
Start-ups also face procurement challenges in both public and private procurement. They lack the financial capacity to deal with lengthy tenders and the roundabout process of price discovery. Private procurement is complicated by the presence of a fragmented customer base and limited systematic channels for distribution. Breaking the installment, we at GoMedii, providing healthcare, another edge with maintaining a profitable distribution channel.
To accelerate this process of mainstreaming innovations within the hospital system in India, we need to focus on identifying promising market-ready health-care innovations that are ready to be tested and deployed at scale. There is a need to facilitate standardized operational validation studies that are required for market adoption, to help ease out the start-up procurement process such that these solutions can be adopted with confidence. This, in effect, will serve the entire ecosystem of health-care innovators by opening up health-care markets for all.
- The Hindu
- Economics Times
- Economics Time Health
- Niti Aayog report