Access, availability and awareness of tech-powered medicine will make India self-reliant in healthcare, Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal remarked. The minister's comments come in the backdrop of India's health industry getting a big power-up boosted by the post-pandemic mass adoption of digital technologies like tele-medicine and e-pharmacy.
The minister said that by leveraging the tools of technology, India's health sector could scale up to meet the demands and requirements of the domestic market when it comes to medical care. Using data and processing, India can further improve healthcare delivery and patient information flow, which will further help doctors in accurate diagnostics. He was speaking at the CII-organised MedTech Global Summit 2020 on Thursday.
Goyal said India's medical sector had a significant role to play in the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative, as elucidated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech. He had highlighted the role of medical fraternity, and medical equipment manufacturers in particular, in ramping up production to meet the COVID-19 requirements, like ventilators.
Pointing to India's 70 per cent recovery rate in COVID-19, the minister said India is a shining example for other developing countries to follow in the years to come. “You can't find anyone on the street not wearing a mask or observing social distancing. Adopting technology like 4G and 5G to artificial intelligence to data analytics in big scale will help in healthcare reach, especially when we are using modern diagnostics and tele-medicine,” he said.
Self reliance is impossible to achieve if we cannot ensure the safety and health and lives of our citizens, Goyal commented. The pharma and medical industry is at the forefront of bringing cutting edge technology to India and ensuring our rightful place in global trade and in global engagement with the medical profession. Along with being the pharma of the world, we should also become the 'hospital of the world'.
Goyal's comment have added weightage in light of the post-pandemic sea change in the growth of digital health, where revenues are predicted to increase four-fold to 34,000 crore rupees. Tele-medicine, or consulting doctors via phone/video as well as e-pharma (ordering of medicines and delivery) and remote diagnosis, till now on the fringes, totally came into their own over the last four months of lockdown, with the government itself changing rules to accommodate the practice. A clutch of companies in this sector, like Practo, are even nearing one billion dollar valuation. This week, Reliance announced its acquisition of leading e-pharma player NetMeds, again raising the interest in this area. E-commerce giants Flipkart and Amazon are both looking to expand their services to include e-pharma delivery.