Health-tech start-ups in India get pandemic booster

According to a report by advisory firm RBSA Advisors, the health-tech market in India is expected to grow at an annual rate of 39% over FY20-FY23.
Representational Image (File Photo)
Representational Image (File Photo)

BENGALURU:  The health-tech start-up space in India is witnessing exponential growth, especially for the past two years now due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Be it online video consultation, ordering medicines online, managing chronic conditions, digital wellness health or diagnostic services, start-ups are using technology to cater to consumers from the comfort of their homes.

According to a report by advisory firm RBSA Advisors, the health-tech market in India is expected to grow at an annual rate of 39% over FY20-FY23. The report says it will reach $50 billion by 2033.
Also, the pandemic has opened up many opportunities for start-ups.

“We stayed resilient through the pandemic and were able to cross annual recurring revenue of $25 million in January, growing 100% from 2020. Our users have lost 20 million pounds of weight, tracked over 1 billion foods and burnt over 66 billion calories working out on HealthifyMe. We believe health-tech start-ups like us that are looking to make a difference have a massive opportunity to cater to a huge audience,” says Manan Chandan, Senior Director-New Initiatives at HealthifyMe.

The start-up, which has a total user base of 30 million, intends to invest in its AI capabilities and hire top talent. It is adding over 5 lakh new users every month and is on track to cross $40 million ARR coming January.

Robust M&As

The recent acquisitions — Flipkart acquiring SastaSundar; Tata Group acquiring 1MG; and Reliance Retail buying majority stake in Netmeds — and growth of many health-tech start-ups are testaments to the future potential of the industry.

While all the above deals happened in this year, according to Statista, in 2020 alone 7 mergers and acquisitions deals worth over $350 million were reported in the health-tech sector in India.

Walmart-backed Flipkart acquired a majority stake in Kolkata-based SastaSundar to launch Flipkart Health+.

Earlier, while investing in 1MG, Tata Digital had said that e-pharmacy, e-diagnostics and teleconsultation are critical segments and have been among the fastest-growing segments in this space. It said that the overall market is around $1 billion and expected to grow at around 50% CAGR driven by increased health awareness among consumers.

Another major player PharmEasy, which provides teleconsultation and home delivery of medical products, has recently filed for Rs 6,250 crore IPO.

The start-up’s investors include Naspers and TPG, among others. In April 2021, PharmEasy turned a unicorn.

It intends to use the IPO proceeds to invest in marketing and promotional activities, supply chain infrastructure, and also for upgrading its tech infrastructure.

Acquisitions in this space indicate the coming of age of health-tech. “How these acquisitions pan out is important. If managed well — if they solve real issues and remain economically viable — these acquisitions can be beneficial to the entire healthcare ecosystem,” says Affordplan CEO Aditya Sharma.

Affordplan has partnered with hospitals, and its product Swasth card is used across OPD, IPD, lab, and pharmacy services.

Another start-up ZiffyTech Digital HealthCare, which launched IoT integrated video consultation recently, has been able to meet the healthcare needs of 1.5 lakh patients/customers via its platform in recent times.  

The start-up, which has clocked revenues over Rs 30 lakh in the last four months, aims to reach Rs 50 lakh revenue per month soon.

According to the government’s investment promotion and facilitation agency — Invest India — health-tech is forecasted to create 40 million jobs by 2030, and there are over 3,000 start-ups in India with focus on health-tech.

The pandemic has accelerated innovation in the health-tech sector, as a new report by London & Partners and shows that in this sector, India has attracted $1.9 billion in funding from venture capitalists in 2021 till date, thereby taking total investments by VCs to $4.4 billion since 2016.

Challenges for the industry

Though start-ups are using technology to reach more users, there are many limitations and challenges too.

Also, it is highly fragmented. Indra Jha, CEO and Co-founder, ZiffyTech Digital HealthCare, says the most significant difficulty is that consumers/patients continue to rely on traditional clinic consultations with doctors.

There has also been an increase in the number of start-ups offering tele-consultation services, however video consultation is falling flat due to a lack of live vitals and past patient data, and even doctors are dissatisfied with the service they are giving, Jha says.

“Enabling doctors and healthcare workers to become familiar with digital platforms has also taken a significant amount of time and effort. The lack of uniformity and standardisation of medical records available through diagnostic centres in India necessitates extra effort in digitally connecting with them and making patient data readily available to clinicians,” he adds.

While there are many innovations, there is massive room for improvement too, says Matilde Giglio, Co-Founder, Even Healthcare.

In June this year, Even Healthcare raised a $5 million seed round led by Khosla Ventures, with participation from Founders Fund (led by Peter Thiel), Lachy Groom and other investors and operators including Nikesh Arora (CEO, Palo Alto Networks, ex-COO, Softbank), Kunal Shah (CEO, CRED) Nithin Kamath (Founder, Zerodha) and Tom Stafford (Partner, DST Global).

“Primary care is still fragmented with patients visiting a general physician to specialists in different facilities or different parts of a country with no effective movement of diagnostic information. This can result in someone getting piecemeal care at each point,” says Giglio, adding that there are also high levels of uncertainty around treatment expenses which means healthcare providers cannot predict spending.  

The country is also addressing various challenges, at the same time, it is collaborating to find solutions in this space.

Health-tech industry monitor

3,000 The number of health-tech start-ups in India currently.

4th India’s rank (after the US, China and the UK) in attracting VC investment to the health-tech sector.

$4.4 billion VC funding India’s health-tech start-ups have received since 2016.

$1.9 billion VC funding attracted by India’s health-tech start-ups in 2021 till date.

40 million The number of likely jobs to be created by the sector by 2030.

Rs 6,250 crore The size of the proposed IPO of PharmEasy’, which provides teleconsultation and home delivery of medical products.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express