Covid is big stimulus for health tech start-ups

NARAYANAN V | | | Updated on: Dec 06, 2021

Companies see huge surge in demand for telemedicine from patients and doctors

Health-tech startups are witnessing a huge surge in demand for telemedicine, video consultation and remote patient monitoring services as a growing number of patients and doctors are opting for virtual consultations over physical visits, fearing risk of infection in pandemic times, and to avoid overcrowding at hospitals.

“In the last 25-30 days alone, we have seen the number of tele-consultation and video consultations on the platform grow about 500 per cent from what they were earlier,” said Gaurav Gupta, Co-founder of Delhi-based digital health start-up, Navia Life Care.

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“This is due to two factors. One is that a lot of senior or aged doctors have reduced their physical or in-person OPD and moved to tele consultations. Secondly, there is also an increase in specialisation with respect to the number of patients who are looking for tele-consultations,” he added.

Navia offers a complete suite of CRM services such as Voice AI feature, Telemedicine, e-consultation, e-prescription and electronic medical records. The start-up primarily focuses on digitising standalone hospitals and clinics, and it currently covers over 8,000 doctors in 400 cities.

“Compared to the peak last year, during lockdowns, the virtual consultations have grown by 150 per cent. Compared to February and early March, the virtual consults have tripled as of yesterday,” said Shyatto Raha, Founder & CEO, MyHealthcare, a digital healthcare platform that connects healthcare seekers with hospitals, doctors, diagnostic labs, pharmacies and home-care service providers.

MyHealthcare offers virtual consultation across 280 specialties. The platform is seeing highest demand for Internal Medicine, General Physicians, Chest Medicine, Pulmonology, Cardiology and Pediatrics. As on date, MyHealthcare is working with 57 hospitals and over 30 clinics, including major healthcare brands like Fortis Group, Max Hospital Group, Nanavati Hospital and Breach Candy Hospital.

A report, Healthcare goes mobile : Evolution of teleconsultation and e-pharmacy in new Normal, published by EY and IPA in September 2020 said that the telemedicine market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 31 per cent for the period 2020-25 and reach $5.5 billion.

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Significant benefits

Not just health-tech startups, leading healthcare institutions are also witnessing a surge in demand for telemedicine/video consultations since the onset of the second wave of the pandemic.

“The increase in teleconsultation compared to the previous months is close to 200 per cent. There is a high demand for Internal medicine/Pulmonology/Family physician consultations,” said Dr Harish Pillai, CEO, Aster India, Aster DM Healthcare.

“The most significant benefit is safety for both patients and healthcare providers; apart from that they are saving time and energy,” Pillai said, adding, “This will help to reduce the spread of the virus among general populations as well as healthcare workers and, most importantly, keep a hospital bed free for a patient who needs hospital care.”

The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown last year have led to the widespread adoption of telemedicine in India. The Government of India also published new guidelines for telemedicine practice in March 2020 to facilitate medical advice for chronic patients who have routine healthcare needs.

“Last time, doctors were sceptical whether teleconsultation is legal and is possible but after the Central government guidelines and a lot of awareness campaigns, doctors have become quite comfortable using such technologies. So, we have crossed the mindset barrier,” Navia Life Care’s Gupta said.

Published on April 28, 2021
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