Covid-19 has led to record growth in online doctor consultations in the past one year in India. India's teleconsultation market size was about $26 million in March last year, but it has grown to $163 million by March 2021 on an annualised run-rate basis.
This is expected to grow by 72% to $836 million by March 2024, said a study on the "Outpatient Healthcare Market in India" by Praxis Global Alliance. The study said one in 35 consultations will happen online by FY24.
Till March 2021, the growth was 0.8% penetration by volume and 1.6% penetration by the value of the total consultations.
It said convenience and safety during COVID-19 are the major reasons for availing of teleconsultations. However, difficulty in understanding the patient's symptoms is one of the major challenges. Further, delayed payments and high service charges cause dissatisfaction among doctors, the study said.
It estimates the number of doctor consultations crossed 4 billion in India in FY21, spending a total of $26 billion in outpatient prescriptions. This is likely to grow 13 per cent over the next three years. Outpatient doctor consultation spend is valued at $10.4 billion. General physicians account for 60 per cent of the consultations, generating a consultation spend of $6,515 million. Gynaecologists come next with $589 million.
The volume of consultations is expected to grow 6% and per capita consultations are expected to be 3.6 per person per year in FY24. For each consultation in India, an associated pharma prescription is generated, whereas typically one in every 3.5 consultations generates a diagnostic test prescription. Average consultation charges per visit across all specialties and city types is around Rs 180-200. Each prescription also results in an average spend on medicines close to Rs 180-200.
The study said 40 per cent of the total pharma spend and 45 per cent of the overall diagnostics tests in India happen through OPD prescriptions.
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