Healthcare in India

Despite the central government’s much-publicized healthcare insurance program, Ayushman Bharat and National Health Policy 2017, India’s healthcare industry continues to be afflicted by plunging expenditure by the government, and lack of health amenities, education, and access to reliable medical care in the non-urban and semi-urban markets.

Despite the central government’s much-publicized healthcare insurance program; Ayushman Bharat and National Health Policy 2017, India’s healthcare industry continues; to be afflicting plunging expenditure by the government; and lack of health amenities, education; and access to reliable medical care in the non-urban and semi-urban markets.

In India’s federal budget, public health expenditure is largely a state affair with the central government; contributing 20-25% to the expenditure. While India has among the lowest spending on healthcare as a percentage of the GDP; in the last few years, the expenditure has further reduced.

Health expenditure by the government

According to a working paper on healthcare expenditure, India spent only 1.41% of its GDP on health; and allied fields in 2005-06, which increased to 1.62% in 2010-11 and then reduced again; to 1.40% in 2014-15. The National Health Policy 2017 aims to increase health expenditure by the government as a percentage of GDP; from the existing 1.15% to 2.5% by 2025. Even that is far less than the global healthcare spending average which is 6% of GDP.

With the lack of friendly policy and higher expenditure; healthcare has been largely limit to hospitals and private clinics; but things started changing around the year 2010 as India’s internet penetration; grew with higher sales of smartphones. Entrepreneurs, as they did with the traditional sectors, pivoted from healthcare to health-tech; introducing cutting-edge technology solutions in healthcare too, in conjunction with medical experts and practitioners.

Healthcare services

What has been practiced long in the West was now in India. A slew of healthcare services that were earlier limited to hospitals was now available in the open market, thanks to technology. This included prevention, diagnosis, treatment of certain diseases, illness, nursing and other services that can now be availed at home by end users, thanks to health-tech and healthcare startups.

While India has recently gone through a complete transformation in the areas of fin-tech, IT; consumer-tech and more, developments in healthcare and health-tech have been rather slow. Inc42 spoke to Meena Ganesh, MD & CEO of Portea Medical, to understand its healthcare; offering home healthcare management the technology platform, and the challenges in this sector.

Portea entered the Indian health-tech market relatively earlier than its competition. Portea Medical was co-founded by Zachary Jones and Karan Aneja in 2013 and was acquired by Ganesh; and her husband and serial entrepreneur K Ganesh in the same year. After the acquisition, Meena became the MD & CEO while K Ganesh is the chairman.