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Healthcare ecosystem in India is transforming with digital disruption: CII survey

PB Jayakumar     October 4, 2019

A Bain Capital-Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) 'India Doctor Survey' states that the Indian healthcare ecosystem is transforming with digital disruption. The study was conducted in June among 325 specialised and general practitioner doctors, across metro and Tier-1 geographies.

The survey says doctors are apprehensive and 28 per cent believe it will become difficult to deliver high-quality care in the next five years. About 79 per cent report they find it challenging to keep pace with the breadth and evolution of disease and treatment protocols. As a result, the majority feel their clinical knowledge and skills, need to be upgraded. Further, 54 per cent believe pharmacists often substitute the brand they prescribe. Though 80 per cent of doctors know it is their responsibility to bring down patient costs, about 47 per cent of them confess they are forced to make cost-quality trade-offs which are not aligned with the best patient care.

The role of medical representatives as the most important source of information for doctors is now diminishing. If a doctor spends 40 hours a week acquiring information, they are dependent on MRs for only 35 per cent of that time. The primary sources of information include digital channels at 83 per cent, peer discussions at 73 per cent and MRs at 62 per cent. While doctors say standardized treatment protocols and electronic medical records (EMRs) continue to remain the most valuable tools for them, more complex tools like robot-assisted medicine and remote patient monitoring are going to be crucial in future. They expect high end training support for nurses and paramedical staff, besides automation tools for improving their practice productivity and chronic disease management.  

The learned patients

Adding pressure, over 80 per cent of surveyed doctors are aware that new age patients are digital savvy and informed of their disease. Today, 31 per cent of patients use digital tools to search and schedule and 27 per cent use online booking for diagnostic services. These numbers will touch 50 per cent in the next five years.

Organised pharma retail in India is valued at $1.5 billion and is projected to grow 20 per cent annually over the next four years, aided by online pharmacy growth of more than 25 per cent, says the survey. Moreover, nursing homes are likely to emerge as an important institutional sales channel as Ayushman Bharat gains momentum. The survey estimate an additional $1 billion opportunity for life sciences companies coming from increased nursing home sales by 2024.

The survey suggests digital supplementation of MRs by life sciences companies can dramatically increase doctor reach while providing more customized information based on individual doctors' information-seeking behavior, besides driving up drug sales. Such digital tools can increase drug adherence to about 10 percent and can result in $8.5 billion in additional drug sales by 2024. Venture capital investments in such healthcare tech companies were more than $500 million in 2018 and that shows the changing digital landscape, says the study.

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