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Inside India’s $5.4 Bn Telemedicine And Remote Healthcare Gold Rush

Inside India’s $5.4 Bn Telemedicine And Remote Healthcare Gold Rush

The prominent telemedicine startups including myUpchar, Practo, Tattvan, Lybrate and mFine have witnessed an average of 40% to 60% increase in consultations since March 2020

Regulatory clarity fuelled the expansion of healthtech startups such as Omnicuris, Metromedi, Curefit into telemedicine, backed by leading hospitals as Fortis, Max Healthcare, Fortis and others

But will the current uptick in demand and supply, and the diversification of models across telemedicine startups also usher in revenue growth in the long run?

Hospitals teetering at full capacity, ICUs also equally packed and doctors overworked. It’s the story of every major economy in the world in the past three months. If nothing else, the pandemic has laid bare the capabilities of India’s healthcare system, and one thing is clear — nothing short of a major overhaul is needed.

But when one looks beyond Covid-19, the big question is about bringing access to healthcare to even the most remote part of the country. On the first day of the countrywide lockdown, i.e March 25, 2020, the Indian government notified the guidelines for telemedicine solutions. Previously, telemedicine operations were governed by several statutory guidelines in India.

These guidelines provided a more comprehensive framework for applications, mode of communication, medical ethics, data privacy and confidentiality, document requirements, fees, process, drug list, technological platforms and more. More importantly, the regulatory framework threw open the field for startups and new business models.

According to a McKinsey Digital India 2019 report, telemedicine in India can reduce in-person outpatient consultation load by half and is said to cost about 30% less for individuals. It seems like a win-win situation for both the provider and the patient, but adoption of telemedicine was limited to few urban cities through startups and public private partnerships such as Apollo Hospitals, Sri Ganga Ram Hospital, Narayana Hrudayalaya and others.