Digital healthcare demand to rise in India: report
The structural shift in the country’s healthcare system has been influenced by tech.
The demand for digital healthcare strategies in India is expected to rise over the next few years, driven by a growing population, the rising prevalence of chronic diseases and heightened awareness of preventative care amongst residents, Fitch Solutions said.
In a report, Fitch said India will remain committed to strengthening the country’s digital health system. India's healthcare system is undergoing a structural shift, accelerated by the adoption of sophisticated healthcare technologies.
However, digital transformation has faced several challenges, the report noted. Human resource, cultural and financial barriers are still noted as key factors slowing the uptake of digital health in India, in addition to inadequate information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure and insufficient policies to successfully implement the system throughout the country.
“Nonetheless, government support and incentive-driven public-private partnerships are anticipated to continue in order for public healthcare to meet developed market standards and attain optimal coverage and equitable geographical distribution,” Fitch said.
Alongside the growing penetration of mandatory health insurance and the continued privatisation of hospitals, total health spending is projected to rise to $192.2b (INR16.1t) in 2026, representing a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.6% in local currency and 11.7% in US dollar terms from 2021.
The onset of COVID-19 disrupted the already overburdened and stretched Indian healthcare system, revealing gaps in care, and exacerbating inequities in access. The repeated waves of infection accelerated the digital transformation of the healthcare sector, Fitch said.
For instance, the government of India successfully rolled out the “COWIN” application to digitize the delivery of the country’s vaccination drive, and the National Digital Health Mission to support the digital health infrastructure.
Key digital health trends were also observed in the public sector, ranging from disease surveillance, ensuring a continuum of care and enabling human resources for health.
The advent of digital health in India is expected to be of “strategic importance” to pharmaceutical firms. Fitch noted that a digital health ecosystem will not only ease access to health services, it will also make care more streamlined, and reduce out-of-pocket expenses in the long term.
It is also expected to expand access to affordable health coverage for all, aiding India’s journey towards Universal Health Coverage.
“This will be a major opportunity for market players as digitalization of pharmaceutical services will allow companies to create more value through improved collaboration between various stakeholders and deliver quality healthcare to patients,” the report stated.
Fitch observed growth in collaborations between pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and digital health solution providers improving communication between patients and physicians and in turn improving the delivery of quality healthcare.
Moreover, as digital health provides increasing access to medical professionals, diagnosis, treatment and patient monitoring are expected to improve.
“These will become increasingly important as more patients experience multiple chronic conditions which will drive the demand for multiple pharmaceutical products and has the potential to facilitate the uptake of personalised medicines for complex non-communicable diseases such as cancer,” the report stated.