This article is part of Inc42’s Startup Watchlist, an annual series in which we list the top startups to watch out for in 2020 from startup sectors such as agritech, deeptech, logistics, healthtech, edtech and more. Explore all the stories from the Startup Watchlist 2020 series here.
From the ancient indigenous medicine to the modern-day artificial intelligence-enabled doctors and diagnosis, healthcare the world over has undergone a massive transformation, and the same can be said about the Indian market. Even though the pace of development in India is still slow when one compares it to Western economies, due to the vast market for healthcare services, in many ways, India is the final frontier for healthcare technology or healthtech.
An increase in population, changing lifestyles and environmental imbalances pose newer challenges to healthcare providers as new diseases pop up, but technology is enabling humans overcome diseases just as quickly. To counter new challenges and focus on mass scale solutions, it is imperative that technology and automation be enabled and encouraged in the Indian healthcare sector.
The industry is growing at a tremendous pace owing to increased penetration of technology, improved connectivity, and enhanced healthcare policies. As per reports, the healthcare market in India is expected to increase threefold to INR 8.6 trillion by 2022. It further states that the government’s expenditure on the health sector has grown to 1.4% in FY18 from 1.2% in FY14. The government of India also plans to increase public health spending to 2.5% of the country’s GDP by 2025.
Over the past few years, this growth has also manifested itself in telemedicine and epharmacy startups which are solving the problem of access. According to DataLabs by Inc42, the healthtech sector recorded total funding of $586.93 Mn in 2019, an increase of over 10% in the amount of funding from the previous year.
But the healthcare industry in India is vast, comprising hospitals, medical devices, clinical trials, medical tourism, health insurance and medical equipment, besides telemedicine or online pharmacies.
Advancements in technology will also bring about a paradigm shift in healthcare, across its spectrum including disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation. Technological tools such as artificial intelligence and big data have the capacity to help provide more personalised treatment options to patients with better outcomes.
Inc42 has curated a list of some healthtech startups in India that have the potential to tap other areas of the healthcare market and establish themselves as a healthtech innovator in 2020. Here’s a look.
Editor’s Note: The below list is in alphabetical order and is not meant to be a ranking of any kind.
Founded in 2016 by Kalyan Sivasailam and Syed Ahmed, 5C Network takes digital copies of radiology scans and gets them interpreted by an expert radiologist supported by AI tools to be faster, more accurate and more consistent in the diagnosis.
The startup claims to have worked with over 500 hospitals and 6 lakh patients across India with a strong presence in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, NCR, MP, UP, Maharashtra, and Telangana.
“The biggest challenge and opportunity is reaching care providers in the remote parts of the country. We are the first digital healthcare service and with our superior quality of service through our technology, we will set the standard for digital delivery of healthcare and diagnosis,” said cofounder Kalyan Sivasailam.
For 2020, the startup plans to scale the AI offering to include more common and critical ailments, and strengthen the product experience for clients. 5C is targeting a 3x increase in its client base and plans to raise another round of investment.
An AI-powered integrated health benefits platform, Ekincare is helping enterprises and corporates monitor the health and wellness of the employees. The data generated provides valuable inputs for insurance companies and helps them with a proper risk assessment which results in reduced insurance premiums.
Related Article: Startup Watchlist 2020: Showcasing India’s Most Promising Startups
Founder Kiran Kalakuntla told Inc42, “Increasing patient demands, lifestyle-related diseases, costs of providing healthcare and the volume of data involved in the healthcare sector leads to a greater need for innovating and the use of better and robust technology. At the same time, employees need a constant nudge to take care of their health which is another biggest challenge for organizations these days.”
Founded in 2014, Ekincare is the health benefits partner for companies like Unilever, Barclays, Optum Global, FedEx and Disney with more than three lakh employees across 50 cities across India. For 2020, Ekincare plans to focus on strengthening third-party integrations and automate the entire customer experience.
Founded in 2015 by Abhishek Jha and Swetabh Pathak, Elucidata has developed a SaaS offering called Polly, which is a set of four workflows that ingest, process, enable interpretation and allows for collaboration on metabolomics dataset. These workflows are being used by scientists and have reduced the time taken to go from raw data to insights. Elucidata claims to have more than 150 users from more than 50 organisations across global pharma players and academic institutions. It’s available as a DIY tool as well as a managed service.
“After the Human Genome Project ended in 2003, the biological data generation has exploded. The cutting-edge instruments are producing data in petabytes. Now the biggest challenge lies in analysing and getting insights from this huge amount of data. Unfortunately, healthcare and life sciences have not picked up the big data revolution just like other industries. This presents a big opportunity for companies like Elucidata to develop scientific big data software for researchers and pharma and accelerate their research,” the company told Inc42.
For 2020, Elucidata plans to raise Series A funding by mid-2020, with a growth strategy to penetrate deeper into the USA and expand to academics in Europe. It further plans on adding more than 100 pipelines/workflows (apps) to cater to the evolving research in other fields.
Impact Guru is a healthcare financing platform founded in 2015 by Piyush Jain and Khushboo Jain that leverages the power of WhatsApp and Facebook with crowdfunding principles to make it easy for people in need of funds to raise money to cover expenses.
The company has an asset-light, transparent revenue model where they charge an 8% fee on the total funds raised with no upfront fee for customers. So far, Impact Guru claims to have helped more than 6K patients raise funds from over 400K donors.
The company told Inc42 that with a strong focus on India the company is also looking opportunistically in other markets specifically the Middle East. “Our focus is to be strongly focussed on healthcare crowdfunding which is a proven concept in the US, UK as well as China. We want to be Asia’s largest healthcare crowdfunding platform excluding China,” they said.
Mfine claims to offer a ‘digital nest’ of services that replicates the physical hospital journey, but from the comfort of home. Its AI-powered cloud-based hospital services offer a complete patient journey— from initial diagnosis, video consultation with a specialist doctor, e-prescription on mobiles, pharmacy services, medication delivery direct-to-home, and after-care services.
Founded in 2017, mfine currently has tie-ups with more than 750 doctors and 225 hospitals, across 22 specialisations, with on-ground services in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, and Delhi.
The company told Inc42, “One of the major difficulties of being a technology player in the healthcare ecosystem is that technology adoption is slower in the healthcare industry compared to other industries. This is understandable because one needs to fit the technology as per the patient’s needs and keeping in mind the medical processes and regulatory requirements.”
For 2020, the key focus of mfine will be on building deeper care products to better manage patients’ chronic conditions, by enabling continuous tracking of their longitudinal health data and proactively providing the necessary care.
Earning a name for itself in the past few years in the cancer diagnosis field, NIRAMAI provides AI-based SaaS solution called NIRAMAI Health Analytix to interpret thermal images and generate breast health reports automatically. The company generates revenue every time a customer uses its API to check for cancer or precancerous growth.
Founded in 2016, the company claims that more than 25K women have undergone the test, which is painless and does not involve any sugery. It is currently working with more than 50 hospitals or healthcare providers having collaborations in different stages.
Cofounder Geetha Manjunath told Inc42, “I think the biggest challenge for the healthtech industry is to change the mindset of people from illness care to wellness care. It is also a huge opportunity area where one can provide preventative care that can help the society, be a market opportunity, also reduce treatment cost (and economic burden) and improve the quality of life of people.”
For 2020 the company plans to establish NIRAMAI in top hospitals, conduct large scale clinical trials to gain further acceptance from medical experts and increase the scale of operations in India along with international regulatory clearances to enable expansion beyond India in future.
Limited accessibility, availability and affordable choices for treatment are key challenges in healthcare today. With technology, there is a huge opportunity for health-tech companies to solve the problem of discoverability and access to the right treatment guidance
Founded in 2017, Onco.com is a virtual cancer care platform that helps patients get personalised and scientific treatment advice from cancer specialists and manages end-to-end care, by connecting them with the right doctors, therapists, hospitals and diagnostic labs.
The startup provides cancer patients with suggested treatment routes and also helps them evaluate their options. Established in 2017, Onco claims to have served more than 30,000 patients across 18 countries with a network of more than 1,500 oncologists across India and the USA and 500+ treatment centres and diagnostic labs.
Explaining the revenue model, cofounder Rashie Jain told Inc42, “We monetise directly from the consumer through our online opinion service. Patients pay Rs. 7000 for an opinion from Indian doctors and $850 for an opinion from a panel of US-based doctors. The opinion is delivered in the form of a comprehensive and detailed report. We also have a lead generation revenue model for any procedure/ tests undertaken with our 500+ service partners spread across India.”
Onco plans to build a strong foothold in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia along with India this year. “We also plan to launch an app, and expand our service offerings by venturing into financial assistance for cancer patients and their families,” Jain added.
Predible develops AI-based applications for the diagnosis and monitoring of respiratory conditions from lung CT imaging. The solutions are used by radiologists and pulmonologists in hospitals and diagnostic centres, providing a supplementary ‘LungIQ Insights’ report along with the CT scan and radiologist report.
Founded in 2016, Predible claims to have processed over 7K patients across 20+ hospitals in India and generates revenue via annual subscriptions and pay-per-use models.
Cofounder Suthirth Vaidya told Inc42 that India is well-poised to emerge as a hub for innovation in this space given implementation of the right regulations around data privacy, interoperability and quality assurance in the next few years. “Existing advantages of vast data in digitised realms such as radiology present a large opportunity for transformation using AI,” he added.
Predible Health plans to scale up operations in India, enabling access to at least 100 more sites across tier 1, 2 and 3 cities in 2020. The company will also be launching a new product which shall open its portfolio to cover one more specialty beyond pulmonology.
Zumutor Biologics develops natural killer (NK) cells therapeutics with a first-in-class antibody to treat prostate cancer. The startup has developed two antibody engineering platforms to facilitate the discovery and development of immunotherapies that have the potential to be monotherapies for specific types of diseases, and core components of combination treatments.
Founded in 2013, the startup has built a platform to develop novel immunotherapies that target innate immunity and regulate the tumour microenvironment. It works with geneticists, immunologists and other specialists in the field of immunotherapies to find new cures. Founder Kavitha Iyer Rodrigues told Inc42 that the biggest challenge has been the ability to raise capital in an ongoing manner.
For 2020, Zumutor will continue its R&D and manufacturing of the novel antibodies for pharma major Catalent, which will be sent for FDA approval by the end of 2020. The company also plans to have two biopharma deals for regional licensing and raise $25 Mn in Series B for the next stage of R&D and expansion.
The healthtech startups are selected for the Watchlist based on editorial criteria as well as the recent funding, stage, growth or scale achieved in the preceding year and how it has differentiated itself or its model in a competitive market.