Unfolding A New Dimension of Indian Healthcare | India Pharma Outlook

Unfolding A New Dimension of Indian Healthcare

Sandip Dey, Chief Business Officer, Akumentis Healthcare & Nicholas Healthcare

 Sandip Dey, Chief Business Officer, Akumentis Healthcare & Nicholas Healthcare

Sandip Dey, an accomplished business leader with rich expertise spanning 30 years in pharmaceuticals, has excelled in diverse areas such as sales, marketing, brand building, and supply chain management in domestic and international markets. Specializing in Hospital, Institution, and Key Account Management (KAM) business, he has consistently driven profitable growth, secured new business accounts, and exceeded top-line targets. His impressive career includes pivotal roles at Alkem, Claris, and Gland Pharma, marking him as a distinguished figure in the pharmaceutical landscape.

Within India's vast healthcare industry, the pharmaceutical sector is a formidable pillar, a critical contributor of 20 percent to the nation's healthcare sector. The industry is growing at around 10 percent and has an estimated valuation of $130Bn by 2030 (according to the Economic Survey). The recent transformative trends within the Indian pharmaceutical industry have been akin to seismic shifts catalyzed by the upheavals brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pharmaceutical sector underwent an unparalleled change due to the pandemic's disruptive influence. Pre-COVID norms of in-person encounters, medical representative clinic visits, and symposiums were abruptly curtailed. However, from this adversity, an era of digital revolution arose within the industry. The onset of COVID acted as a catalyst, accelerating the adoption of digital technologies across the pharmaceutical landscape. It was a watershed moment, steering the industry toward embracing virtual mediums for interactions, consultations, and knowledge dissemination. Platforms like Google Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and WhatsApp emerged as conduits facilitating seamless connections between pharmaceutical entities and healthcare practitioners.

This shift wasn’t merely temporary; it marked a fundamental transition from physical-centric approaches to a digital blended model, a ‘Phygital’ paradigm wherein digital connectivity became intrinsic, complementing the reinstated physical interactions. This fusion allowed for an extensive reach, enabling robust connections between pharmaceutical stakeholders, healthcare professionals, and patients.

Impact of Digital Integration on Healthcare and Patient Outcomes

The consequences of this digital transformation echo across multiple facets of the industry. Knowledge sharing transcends conventional barriers, empowering healthcare professionals with updated information and treatment protocols. Patients benefit from easy accessibility to medical consultations and medicines, facilitating improved healthcare outcomes. 

Moreover, the pandemic-induced shortages of healthcare infrastructure, notably the shortage of beds, spurred a collective effort toward infrastructure development. Both public and private sectors catalyzed a significant push toward augmenting healthcare facilities, thereby bolstering the nation's healthcare infrastructure.

As India’s pharmaceutical market continues to grow at an approximate rate of 10 percent, its contribution to the overall healthcare sector revenue, accounting for around 20 percent, proves its pivotal role in shaping the nation's healthcare narrative. This is indeed a new dawn for the Indian pharmaceutical landscape one that embraces technology, eases accessibility, augments infrastructure, and places patient-centricity at its core, promising a future where healthcare accessibility and quality converge synergistically.

Navigating the Crossroads, Dualities, and Other Stumbling Blocks

India's healthcare ecosystem stands at a critical juncture, balancing the tightrope between several challenges and opportunities. To speak of challenges first:

  • Disparity in Infrastructure and Accessibility

The juxtaposition of public and private healthcare segments unveils contrasting approaches to patient treatment. As per Statista’s report during COVID, India had a total of approximately 19 lakh hospital beds, with 7 lakh beds in public (government) hospitals and 12 lakh beds in private hospitals. Top of FormThe glaring mismatch between population density and available hospital beds remains a persistent challenge. The bed-to-population ratio today stands at 1.3 beds per thousand.

This gap between need and provision exposes an ordeal for those in remote areas, struggling for access to even basic healthcare facilities. Public healthcare institutions, stand as bastions of free or heavily subsidized treatments. They cater predominantly to a vast part of the population, offering basic to medium-intensity treatments. However, their limitations in infrastructure and resources pose considerable hurdles. Contrastingly, the private healthcare domain has superior infrastructure and a comprehensive treatment facility. It excels in delivering holistic care under one roof, albeit at a great cost. Yet, it raises the bar in patient-centric care, leveraging technological advancements and multifaceted specializations.

  • Education and Awareness

Coupled with the infrastructure deficit is the alarming dearth of health awareness and education among people. The lack of understanding regarding symptoms, and diseases, and the urgency of seeking timely medical attention often leads to unfortunate outcomes. Addressing this information gap emerges as a crucial linchpin in fortifying the nation's healthcare fabric.

  • Rising Costs and Aging Populations

The burgeoning healthcare expenses cast a shadow on affordability and accessibility. Furthermore, the demographic shift towards an aging population poses a conundrum in caregiving, as the traditional familial support structure is unavailable because children are abroad, etc.

Amidst these challenges lies a glimmer of hope, steered by strategic initiatives and collaborative efforts:

  • Evolving Healthcare Models

Public-private partnerships and foreign investments show a promising trajectory. Commitments to increase healthcare spending, especially in infrastructure and research as a percentage of GDP paint an optimistic future.

  • Technological Advancements

Embracing telemedicine, digital diagnostics, and global collaborations, propels expanded reach and enhanced patient care. The rise of medical startups is reshaping patient-provider interactions, bridging geographical barriers, and expanding access to remote areas as well. The emergence of 4,000 startups within the healthcare sector over the last 730 days reflects the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation shaping the industry's future.

  • Govt Initiatives

Moreover, initiatives such as Ayushman Bharat have revolutionized healthcare policies, providing a lifeline to millions by ensuring access to quality treatment. These policies have also nudged healthcare providers to adapt, innovate, and align their practices with government guidelines, ensuring equitable treatment access. 34 percent of the people avail benefits from government schemes like CDHS, and Ayushman Bharat, and only 11 percent have insurance.

The predicted increase in government spending on healthcare, from 2 percent of the GDP in 2021 to an estimated 2.5 percent by 2025, further highlights the opportunities in the healthcare sector. 

Charting a Path to Holistic Healthcare

Propelled by advancements, challenges, and aspirations, the industry charts the course for a future where healthcare isn't just a service but a fundamental right—a vision that stitches together accessibility, affordability, and quality care.

In this pivotal moment, stakeholders must unite in a concerted effort. Collaborative strategies, innovative financing models, and a relentless pursuit of inclusive healthcare must form the bedrock of India's journey towards a sustainable, healthy future. 

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