Healthcare tech-startups are the new big thing today considering the huge potential in the sector. Offline healthcare system has mostly been disconnected with the digital world. Indian ventures like Practo, Lybrate, Portea have recently grown but it hasn’t been easy for them. They’ve faced their fair share of challenges like another start-up, more so being in a sector which traditionally has shied away from technology. The five biggest challenges that all healthcare tech-startups are facing in India can broadly be the listed –
1.Slow Growth – Any startup needs to tackle the ups and downs with patience. One major factor every would-be founder needs to understand is that the growth in the sector is very slow; it takes a lot of hard work to keep oneself motivated. Considering Practo, who received their first funding after 3 years, it still took them a long time of 7 years to reach where they are today. The competition may not be tough but very few startups are able to survive the sluggish pace of growth in the industry.
2. Complex Industry – The industry does not give enough freedom to express oneself and that’s where innovative thinking takes precedence. General association of healthcare industries is with the government and the government levies a lot of rules and regulations. The policies are mostly unclear which creates a lot of confusion in the workspace. Some doctors might also find it unsafe to join in with the industry due to the similar reasons.
3. Doctors are tough – The calculated doctor-patient ratio in India is as bad as 1:1700, and it goes down to 1:60,000 in the rural areas. In a country like ours where the number of doctors is insufficient, they become very hard to acquire. They do not even have the time to look up to the digitized healthcare systems. Getting hold of the doctors today is very tough.
4. Monetization – The growth of the sector is slow which makes it hard to monetize. With very few startups in the healthcare space today, there are very few business models to draw reference from. Hence monetization plan would be trial and error. Health tech start ups, whether as doctor – patient platforms, doctor-doctor, lab aggregators, have found it really tough to break-even or even find a sustainable revenue model. More because of the fact that, the industry deals with the lives of patients, people generally think it is the right of the providers, enablers and suppliers to save them. The social angle associated with the industry is one of the major root cause that its tough to monetize in healthcare and education.
5. Lack of healthcare mentors in India – Right mentors are an essential aspect of any start-up that are mostly unavailable. India’s competitive advantage lies in its large group of well-trained medical professionals, and as a place that is growing for high-end diagnostic services; the number of mentors and investors is very less. With most start ups failing in this space, existing investors are also very apprehensive in investing.
In recent times with a flurry of health apps coming to the fold with promise and a result oriented approach, the trend in healthcare industry is truly changing for the better. Let’s just say things are looking up. And the healthcare ecosystem is up for a holistic makeover.
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