India’s healthcare sector saw major disruptions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. From the manufacturing of vaccines in unprecedented turnaround times to enabling access to healthcare in a contactless manner, the healthcare sector was compelled to innovate and reboot like never before.
To discuss how the sector has evolved in the last one year, SMBStory and cloud partner Amazon Internet Services Private Limited (AISPL) hosted a WhatsApp chat session as part of ‘SMB week – Converse, Combat, Conquer’.
In the second session, held on March 17, industry leaders from the healthcare sector came together to discuss the disruptions and trends in the Indian healthcare industry and how small and medium businesses (SMBs) operating in this space can leverage prevailing trends to stay ahead of the curve.
Trends emerging from the pandemic
All panellists agreed that the dealing with the pandemic showed the importance of having a strong healthcare ecosystem in the country. Meena Shah, Co-Founder of iView Labs, noted that the coronavirus pandemic has brought to light that India’s healthcare infrastructure needs to improve in the following pillars — diagnostics, care, distribution, and insurance.
Apart from the lessons learnt, the panellists also discussed some paramount trends that emerged from the events that unfolded last year.
One of the most basic and strongest trends is the rise in telehealth or virtual consultations. According to Diksha Chabbra, Founder of Dikshachabbra.com, home services will remain an important part of Indian healthcare ecosystem even in the coming times.
She further added that just like other industries, healthcare and fitness industries have also completely, “switched their business models to online services by providing effective solutions within the safe environment of their four walls.” In what has come to be known as the new normal, the way healthcare workers and patients interact has also changed.
The way India rose up to the occasion and manufactured vaccines not just to meet domestic demand, but also export to other countries proved that the healthcare ecosystem was the flag-bearer of the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign.
This has also paved the way for tremendous breakthroughs in the disease and diagnostic space through research and investment, said Shami Raj, Head of Product and Design, LoopHealth.
“The focus has moved from curing diseases to disease prevention,” pointed out Dr. Arika Bansal, Co-Founder, Eugenix Hair Sciences.
Technology to the rescue
The panelists also concurred that how organisations will adopt and implement technology will largely determine the survival of SMBs operating in the healthcare space.
Technologies like cloud computing, data science, integrations, artificial intelligence, machine learning etc, will enable companies to provide more personalised services.
Furthermore, the panellists highlighted that companies will have to ensure that their operations and delivery models are working efficiently and productively. And this why technology is so important as it will help them stay on top of their game. They agreed that cloud computing emerged as one of the clear winners.
Speaking from personal experience, Diksha said, “Cloud computing has helped our startup in the space of storage and sharing the database in a great way.”
“We use multiple data points to come up with what kind of health care services we need to build and utilise cloud infrastructure to enable this,” said Shami. He also said that technology also helped the engineering teams of the company build complex solutions in a really smooth manner.
The benefits of implementing this technology don’t end there.
Shami further elaborated, “A great data infrastructure that combines different data sources will enable businesses to bring in intelligence to their decision making, which will help their patients.”
A bright future ahead
While it is true that COVID-19 changed the way we live for the foreseeable future, it has awakened the world, including India, to the importance of a strong healthcare ecosystem.
Meena says that moving forward, the whole focus of the ecosystem should be on making life easier for patients and their families. She gave the example of one of her relatives who had to wait for six hours in order to get his mediclaim processed.
Shami Raj shared his observations on how conversations around mental health and the importance of seeking help in such times has drastically increased in the wake of the challenges posed the pandemic. “This, coupled with telemedicine and virtual interactions, can help India achieve a breakthrough in the mental health space,” he pointed out.