The telemedicine industry, incorporating healthtech, is anticipated to develop a telemedicine market of size more than $5.4 Bn by 2025. India’s telemedicine guidelines published in March 2020 have defined regulations for startups and investors. Startups such as Practo are dominant in India’s telemedicine market with a lot of unexplored opportunities. India’s healthtech industry is largely operated by startup players rather than large companies. Apart from prominent players such as Practo and mFine, startups such as Meddo and Navia Lifecare have also enforced teleconsultations through voice and video facilities. The main goal is to lessen the number of patients visiting clinics and hospitals for non-emergency cases. 

The unprecedented COVID-19 episode produced utter challenges for conventional healthcare systems in India. Because of the countrywide lockdown, people could not consult with doctors physically. This circumstance made the government amend the regulations around remote delivery of healthcare services and enable telemedicine through video, audio, or text, that is, healthtech. 

Under a regulatory grey area, startups like Practo, mFine, and Lybrate were administering telemedicine services in India. The transparency in the regulations about telemedicine will help these startups handle the spread of coronavirus and enhance reach to healthcare for the rural category.

With a rise in the occurrence of lifestyle-related diseases and increasing healthcare costs, there is enormous pressure on the conventional healthcare system. Ingenious and new technologies are enabling the healthtech industry to improve reach and lessen the responsibility on clinics and hospitals via real-time consultation with doctors through smartphones, tablets, laptops, or PCs.

India has a deficit of approximately 600K doctors and 2 Mn nurses, as per reports last year. Also, India has one government doctor for every 1,139 people, while the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests a ratio of 1:1,000. The deficit of doctors is restricting face-to-face consultations among patients. Moreover, India has a deficit of hospital beds; this makes hospitalization tricky. Better facilities and infrastructure so that patients can be given attention through teleconsultation are required. 

Telemedicine fills the healthcare void between rural India and urban India. In rural India, where access to medical facilities, specialist advice, and advanced healthcare conveniences is insufficient, telemedicine serves as a healthcare service provider procuring access to specialist doctors to these areas. Hence, telemedicine will curtail the time of consultations and enhance the quality of healthcare and healthtech services in rural areas, eliminating many infrastructural hindrances. The telemedicine market in India is predicted to reach $5.4 Bn by 2025 with a CAGR of 31%. 

Regulatory Transparency Removes Telemedicine Burden

With the arrival of telemedicine, startups, investors, and consumers have wanted regulations and guidelines of the method, reimbursement, quality of service, and privacy concerns.

Considering the stringency of the circumstance during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Indian government had established guidelines for telemedicine remedies on March 25, 2020. As per Section 27 of the Medical Council of India Act, 1956, any individual enrolled in Indian Medical Register can practice in any state of India. Thus, inter-state telemedicine service was lawful although not formalized. 

The recent telemedicine guidelines in India give a more thorough framework for applications, methods of communication, medical principles, data privacy and confidentiality, document provisions, payments, procedure, medication lists, technological platforms, and so on. The regulatory framework will also invite more investors to the telemedicine sector as businesses will have transparency for business models.

Online consultation platforms have aided the healthcare requirements of Indians at a time when leaving homes was out of the question. It is the most pressing need to control the spread of the virus. As per the above-mentioned stats, the healthcare responsibility in the country is huge and healthtech platforms can certainly help share it. People can consult doctors across specialties, ultimately letting hospitals tend to more severe patients. 

Apart from telemedicine, other healthtech sectors such as online pharmacy, medicine technology, medical devices, and healthcare data and analytics have also desired improved regulatory transparency so that startups can concentrate on the model rather than grasping their operations. For the healthtech industry, the Covid-19 crisis has brought about a lot more transparency and impetus, comparable to what the fintech sector got in India immediately after demonetisation in 2016.

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