The process has already started thanks to some key players but the real question is, is India ready?
Healthcare services in India is still an unchartered territory and above that, the home healthcare market is still in its teething stage. Yet, it’s all set to disrupt the conventional medical setup thanks to the need gap, new technological advancements and the backing and support from prominent VC’s.
Let us not forget that, India, as a country has an ageing problem and the success of the players, will boil down to the technology-rich care model that is affordable to non-health insured holders.
- On a global scale, the idea of healthcare at home has stemmed from the conceptual need of servicing a patient who is not stable enough to be in the hospital, yet, needs long-term professional care.
- This means allowing either doctors, physicians, nurse or expert caregivers in the home to take care of the patient as needed and sometimes, around the clock.
- Now in most countries, home healthcare providers need to be licensed for practical purposes but due to India’s lack of and specific regulatory system, home healthcare providers can provide services that have proven to clinically and commercially beneficial.
Is that good news? Yes.
The Players Are Making A Splash
Enters the picture Portea, Maxhealthcare, Medcareathome, Nightingales and many such portals who have taken up the responsibility to bring healthcare to the homes of India. With services such as nursing care, physiotherapy, doctors visit, post-operative care, diabetic care and geriatric package, the mission of all the companies are unified – to make healthcare affordable, accessible without compromising on quality. Out of all, Portea is the most prolific brand and currently has a staff of 600 with presence over 11 cities. It’s also extremely technology-driven and uses an app for all patient record, handheld devices for the staff on the field and GPS tracking for monitoring of logistics.
According to PwC, the home healthcare market in the country is already worth USD 2 billion is and growing annually at 20%. But it’s not all a rosy picture due to the lack of insurance coverage of home services but then again, in a country like India where less than 17% of the population has health insurance, the lack of one is not such a hindrance.
Not surprisingly, established players like Apollo Hospitals and Fortis, and startups such as Pramati Healthcare and Life Circle Health Services made its entry into the segment and that’s why many such companies have attracted strategic investment. Some examples include;
In 2016, Mumbai-based Care24 received USD 4 million from SAIF Partners. – In 2015, Portea Medical raised USD 37.5 million from Accel, International Finance Corporation, Qualcomm Ventures and Ventureast.
It’s All About About the C
The word we are looking here is “Convenience“ and similar to ordering one’s favourite food and having it delivered to ́the doorstep, in-home healthcare is all about bringing specialised service and care to people at the convenience of their home.
- If one thinks about the target group that will benefit the most from these facilities are ageing adults in need regular medical care.
- And given the status of the abysmal doctor to patient ratio in the hospitals and lack of quality care, in-home healthcare also declutters the hospitals for more urgent cases.
- That’s why the most commonly availed services are nursing and caretaker visits including post-surgical care, suture removal and IV infusion.
As mentioned earlier, India’s population is set to grow pretty rapidly along with the rise of working population and occurrence of chronic ailments but there’s a huge scope for new players to enter the scene and make an impact. Players like Portea are busy with rapid service line expansion which is leading them to tie-up with hospital likes Apollo, Manipal, Sparsh among others.
The Business Model
The simplest and the most effective business model followed by the players is to generate referrals by tying up with hospitals chains and doctors. As the players gain popularity and loyalty, their authority to bargain with hospitals will also rise. Another trend on the rise is of the hospitals providing their own in-home healthcare services to try and beat the competition.
Not surprisingly, with pressure to scale to gain new customers, a large amount is also spent on digital marketing ( apps, social media, blogs ) and building awareness.
How Does the Consumer Benefit?
• Preventive care
• Round the clock service
• Cost savings
The Challenges and the Way to Overcome
The idea and industry of healthcare at home come with its own set of challenges which includes creating awareness, lack of skilled manpower, employee retention, technology, scaling difficulties due to low margins along with operational hindrances such as the almost non-existence of standard guidelines for in-home healthcare training and inconsistent quality.
Also, the issue of rising wages is leading the players to explore building a network or community of doctors, nurses to handle excess demands that can’t be handled by in-house staff.
Here also lies the opportunity for doctors to explore a new format to build a larger database of patients who need specific care. Last but not least, the ability to handle last-mile logistics and remote healthcare workers is critical. Specialised service providers are more capable of delivering this service than hospitals because the core competencies and business model will differ.
The Way Ahead
It’s time to envisage monumental growth. The Indian in-home healthcare to all set to overthrow the traditional healthcare system in the future. The proof lies in the pudding itself as the major VCs have already given the green signal to the market due to the significant need gap. Since also key developments are expected in the areas of insurance, service protocols and regulations, a lot of focus will be directed towards building credibility.
In this Pandemic situation, India should also encourage Home healthcare too. This would help in prevention and spread too.