With rapid advances in technology and increased sophistication of medical devices, Medical Technology today plays an integral role in healthcare systems across the world. The Medical Technology industry, which is presently at the core of this transformation, is set to revolutionize the healthcare sector in India as well.
Using many of the nascent as well as advanced medical technologies such as artificial intelligence, remote sensing, 3D printing, E-ICUs, virtual reality, telemedicine and others, MedTech has the potential to help India’s healthcare industry overcome many of the present challenges such as accessibility, affordability as well as quality of services.
The CII-Deloitte Report “Medical Technology: Shaping Healthcare for all in India” discusses the significant role that Medical Technology can play in the provision of healthcare services in the Indian healthcare sector. The report also highlights the key challenges faced by the Medical Technology market.
Role of MedTech in Providing Healthcare Services
The MedTech industry today is helping the healthcare sector address many of its current challenges through many advanced technologies.
Medical Technology can enable the healthcare sector in providing enhanced patient care services to rural areas with the help of video conferencing and embedded computing devices which can send and receive data via the internet.
Advanced technologies and equipment such as artificial intelligence and robotics are able to provide higher levels of precision, thereby increasing the success rate and improving overall quality of care. Technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality can also be used to simulate real time healthcare environment to provide training to physicians, technicians and doctors, making the presence of actual equipment for training purposes unnecessary.
The market for wearables in the form of pedometers, activity detectors, etc. has also grown significantly in recent years. These devices when connected to medical equipment, diagnostic equipment and healthcare analytics platform, can transmit data related to the patient’s health and vitals and therefore can be used for continuous monitoring of people’s health.
MedTech and National Health Policy
The revised National Health Policy (NHP) of 2017, recently released by the Government of India, has refreshed the goals and principles in the context of Universal Health Coverage, which is based on the broad principles of equity, affordability and accessibility. The revised policy includes the use of medical devices to significantly accelerate India’s growth towards universal healthcare.
Medical technology can help achieve the principles of the NHP 2017 in a number of ways. The use of medical devices in complex procedures has led to increased success rates and an overall improvement in the quality of care. In the case of preventive care, medical devices play an important role in the screening and early diagnosis of disease. Early detection reduces the lifetime cost of a disease, improves affordability and reduces morbidity.
How can MedTech help in achieving the principles set by National Health Policy 2017
The Indian medical devices market has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 17% from USD 2.02 billion in 2009 to USD 4.9 billion in 2016. However, a disproportionate percentage of the demand emanates from the metro cities. Rural areas, which consist of a significant chunk of the total Indian population, are highly underserved, when it comes to provision of healthcare services. There is significant untapped demand in medical devices from the rural areas as well as in tier-2/3 cities, which present huge opportunities for driving future growth of the sector. However, lack of adequate healthcare infrastructure and the growing disparity in the healthcare infrastructure between urban and rural areas is a key concern that needs to be addressed urgently.
Healthcare Infrastructure across Cities
Regulation, lack of investments, insufficient talent base and lack of focus on innovation, among others, are some of the challenges that impede the growth of the MedTech industry.
Regulatory Challenges: Lack of an independent regulatory authority for medical devices act as a major deterrent for the industry. Also, regulatory changes such as price control or steep price cuts of medical devices create an environment of uncertainty, discouraging the development of advanced technologies.
Small Market Size: Low public expenditure, poor penetration of health insurance as well as high cost of medical devices lead to subdued consumption of healthcare services as well as allied medical technology. All these result in a poor market size and also increase the challenges of affordability.
Low Ease of Doing Business: India ranks 130 out of 189 countries in the Ease of Doing Business Rankings on account of complex bureaucracy, ambiguous labour laws and high lead time for approvals and clearances. The delays in various processes discourage innovation in the sector.
Insufficient Talent Base: A critical factor impeding the growth of the sector is the lack of trained professionals and clinical staff required for installing, operating, servicing and repairing medical devices.
Immature Ancillary Industry: The different components of medical devices need a manufacturing ecosystem of their own for their growth and lack of a local vendor base stands as an obstacle to the growth of the medical devices industry.
Low Focus on Contextual Innovation: Most of the products developed in the industry are developed for the global market and are therefore sometimes unsuitable for local needs. Thus, the lack of focus on contextual innovation is also a major hindrance for the growth of the industry.
The Indian healthcare sector presents a huge opportunity for the Medical Technology market. However, to realize its full potential, it is important to overcome the challenges that the sector is facing today. Both the public and private sector have an important role to play in helping the industry overcome its challenges. Part three of the report discusses how the untapped potential of the industry could be realized and the role of the government and the industry in the process.