The last year has been a whirlwind for the entire world, courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic. With markets plummeting, businesses shutting down and individuals scampering to keep themselves safe, there has been a drastic change in industries, especially the healthcare sector. The increase in healthcare allotment for the Budget 2021 is proof of the fact that India has learnt from its unpreparedness and is moving in a direction to make it more accessible and simpler for users.
There have been several learnings for healthtech and insure-tech companies in the country and the shift towards implementing the same is on the way. We have seen an increase in overall awareness of healthcare, especially preventive care. This was primarily caused due to the impact the pandemic had on people’s overall wellness – immunity and resilience towards the virus being key. Companies are quickly tapping into preventive and proactive care as the demand for the same has increased over the last year.
Another change that has been focused on is the digitization of healthcare. Healthcare access in India was primarily offline before the pandemic. Medicines were bought from pharmacies, and check-ups & tests were done only at hospitals, which meant long waiting lines and higher consultations fees.
With people staying indoors, many healthcare providers moved their services online with additional benefits to ensure safety and quicker turn-around-time. From the looks of it, the coronavirus is here to stay for a while. So, it is more important for companies to ensure that their clients and users get their required healthcare benefits without the risk of exposure.
Another learning for healthcare providers has been that there is a shocking dearth of healthcare benefits being provided by employers to their teams. Employees are now demanding healthcare benefits as a part of their package and for companies providing the same. It is a great tool to attract and retain talent. To cater to this growing demand, many companies are now turning to provide group health benefits to employers as a single solution for employee healthcare.
The future of the healthcare industry will also need the inclusion of technology, especially to aid machine learning and predictive analysis. At least for the next decade, planning and strategizing will have to focus on both to provide a complete understanding of patient history, thus imparting a more accurate health experience.
Healthcare will also need to go beyond insurance to include wellness, personalized healthcare guidance, home healthcare facilities and virtual care.
In our stint with the healthcare market in the last year, we observed that approximately 85 percent of our users did not have any access to healthcare before signing-up for a healthcare membership. This number though shocking, is expected as the healthcare market and healthcare services provided in India is part of an extremely broken system. Insurance-related processes like hospitalization and claims redemption are tedious and time-consuming. Companies like Onsurity have deep-dived into the claims and hospitalization process to simplify them for users – the intent being to coax them to get the healthcare they deserve at the right time.
The new budget allotment to healthcare is a welcome addition, as it will start gearing for the healthcare spread and supply to every corner of the country. Companies and providers should take-up this opportunity to expand their healthcare services and features to ensure care is given to users at the right costs. It will also ensure the standardization of healthcare costs to equalize the playing field for providers and recipients.
The future of the healthcare industry will also need the inclusion of technology, especially to
aid machine learning and predictive analysis
With an overall glance, it is known already that the entire healthcare sector in India needs to transform itself to make healthcare more accessible. The challenge here is the rate at which this transition takes place and how consistent the sector is. The development will have to continue towards healthtech with a focus on bringing healthcare closer to tier-2 and tier-3 cities. It is also going to be vital to ensure quicker TAT (Turn Around Time) and increased transparency so that a sense of trust and security is developed in the users of healthtech facilities.
Awareness of the importance of healthcare is increasing, and it is vital for providers and the industry at large to work fast and work smart. For a country with as large a population as ours, individuals, company owners and providers need to take-up this challenge and give the right healthcare benefits to people. In the wake of another pandemic or continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be prepared with a robust healthcare system to reduce fatalities and health risks. The advantage we have here is that India’s population is among the youngest in the world. Instilling the need for better overall health and wellness not only promises a healthier population ten years down the line, but will also reduce costs on healthcare.