The Indian healthcare industry is not able to cater to the vast population, and the situation shall not change drastically over the next five years.
Attempts are being made to reform the medical education sector by replacing the education regulator, Medical Council of India, with a new body, National Medical Commission. Fifty-five new medical colleges are being set up and funds of Rs.4,357.42 crore have been released. GST implementation is expected to diminish complexities and promote local manufacturing. NHP 2017 is addressing issues of involvement of the private sector, public-private partnership, promotion of research, preventive healthcare, and medical tourism.
It is alarming that against the projected demand of Rs.34,315.66 crore for 2017–2018 under National Health Mission, the total allocation in Revised Budget Estimates is Rs.21,940.70 (reduced from the initial Rs.26,690 crore), increasing the shortfall from Rs.7,625.66 crore to Rs.12,374.96 crore. And this is a reduction of Rs.257.25 crore over allocation of Rs.22,197.95 crore in 2016–2017. This has been caused by a major reduction in central plan allocation, as the resource availability from state share has increased over the years.
To fix the heavily burdened healthcare system, it would be prudent to piggyback on digital healthcare. This is in line with global trends, with USD 6 billion invested in 2016 in digital health, having grown at a CAGR of 28 percent in the last 5 years; and increased from less than 10 percent in 2013 to 25 percent in 2016 in emerging countries.
There is already a strong momentum in India’s nascent digital health sector in the last two years with a good number of companies getting funded at the Seed or Series A level. They raised Rs.560 crore in VC funding in 30 deals in the first half (H1) of the year 2017, much higher than the Rs.200 crore for 19 deals signed in the same period in 2016.
Digitally enabled care is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a fundamental business imperative. The sooner we recognize it, the better!