While the Covid-19 outbreak has been quite challenging for all types of businesses across the world, it has been more so for the healthcare sector. The pandemic put the spotlight on the healthcare sector, both in terms of its importance and on how the sector needs to innovate and progress to cater to diverse and demanding needs. We witnessed India adapt to changing needs and make significant advancements in a short amount of time – from mass-producing essential healthcare equipment to facilitate quick access to primary care to the vaccine and drug production and administration.
From the consumer side also there was a shift in their connection with and expectations from the healthcare sector. As Covid-19 cases soared, people became reluctant to step out of their houses; they deemed hospitals & clinics no longer safe and turned to digital healthcare platforms to meet their needs. MediBuddy recording over 1.27 crore medical queries during the pandemic period is an example of the shift in consumer behavior. This happened because MediBuddy provided care and medical services to those in need in the convenience and comfort of their homes. Starting from doctor consultation by experts to lab tests to Covid tests to delivery of medicines…all healthcare services were provided from a single window.
With this as a background, it would be interesting to see the attention that the healthcare sector gets in the Union Budget 2021. Over the past few years, we have seen the allocation in the budget for health marginally increase. The Covid-19 crisis has clearly spelt out the need to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure with a special focus being on digital healthcare. The upcoming budget needs to focus on investment in and expansion of digital delivery to ensure that healthcare becomes affordable and accessible to all.
The Indian digital healthcare market is expected to grow by 6x with a record CAGR of 25% by Dec 2021 based on the forecast that adoption of digital will be faster than has been in the past. Given the impact of Covid-19 on the global and Indian digital healthcare industry, the expectation is that the industry will grow rapidly to a level of US$ 6 billion (INR ~431.97 Bn) by 2021, expanding at a rate of 40%.
The good news is that not just healthcare but businesses across other sectors are rebounding and sales are picking up. Ever since the lockdown has lifted, employment statistics are improving. It is clear that India is on the track to recovery and has positioned itself back on a positive economic trajectory. The year is already off to a promising start with the vaccine rollout. The market and businesses are recovering and performing well. The Covid-19 cases are falling and economic figures are rising. If the trend continues, this could truly be a transformational and progressive year for the business world in India.