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medical devices 27 Sep 2017

Is India a Potential Market for Medical Devices?

India is a fast-growing market for medical devices with the sector witnessing double-digit growth in recent years.

By Chander Shekhar Sibal Executive Vice President and Head of Medical Division

India is recognized as the sunshine sector by the government, it has evolved significantly in the last decade with government and industry taking several initiatives to develop the market.

The Growth in the Market
According to a joint study by NATHEALTH and Deloitte in March 2016, the medical devices industry in India grew at a rate of 10 percent from 2008 to 2014 and is expected to reach $8.6 billion by 2020 at an organic growth rate of 15 percent per annum. As against the expected global industry growth of 4-6%, this is phenomenal, considering the fact that India’s public health expenditure is a little over 1% of GDP compared to 8.3% for the United States.

The growth rate is attributed to several factors like burgeoning middle class, improved healthcare infrastructure, increased healthcare spending, etc. Apart from this, reforms such as allowing 100% FDI, Digital India, Make in India, building medical device parks, etc, have also contributed to the growth.

Market Dependence
It must be noted that despite achieving considerable growth, the country still depends heavily on imported devices for addressing domestic demand. More than 70 percent of medical equipment sold in the country is imported. Through Make in India, the government is looking to build manufacturing hubs to address the issue.Also, the new Medical Devices Rules 2017 is expected to boost domestic manufacturing and will provide big opportunities for players.

Digitization- Bringing in Change
Digitization is changing the landscape of healthcare and medical devices ecosystem. Digitization and the proliferation of IoT-enabled edge devices present a great opportunity for growth in India. Digitization in acute care, chronic care or in adherence is greatly aided by IoT-powered medical devices such as subcutaneous drug delivery units, continuous glucose monitors and vitals monitoring equipment.

As India’s population boom, the country needs a very efficient imaging technology to screen and diagnose patients. Currently, the country faces an acute shortage of radiologists who can report images like CT scan, MRI, XRAYS, etc. The requirement of proper tele radiology setup, the digitization tool and the right infrastructure is humungous.

The Challenges Ahead
Providing accessibility to quality diagnostics services is a major challenge for the government. The National Health Mission, which aims to promote innovation and adoption of newer technologies, encourages states for entering PPP arrangements with the private sector for services such as specific laboratory services, services of CT scan and image transmission and reporting. As the healthcare sector expands, Tier II and tier III cities have an increasing demand for improved healthcare infrastructure. Since most of the diagnostic facilities are concentrated in Tier I cities and patients in rural areas little access to these facilities in their locality, there is growing demand for healthcare facilities in Tier II and Tier III cities. This shall provide a platform for scalable growth.

The growing non-communicable disease is another challenge India today confronts. Non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, now account for 60% of all deaths in India. Data says that 68% of Indian cancer patients die before five years of diagnosis. Early detection is the key to control the disease and screening and change in lifestyle including nutrition and exercises can save a lot of lives.

The Shift in Emphasis
As the healthcare system undergoes significant reform, the emphasis is now shifting from treatment to prevention, which in turn improving the efficiency of diseases and care management. Greater awareness and technological innovation are enabling people to take charge of their health and focus on disease prevention. There is a shift from treatment to prevention via health and wellness.

Health insurers are now added wellness programs with their products which focus on prevention of diseases rather than disease management. They are incentivizing patients to lead healthier lives, thereby mitigating the downstream health care costs. This has opened a new avenue for tech-startups and innovators. Leveraging the mobile technology, the startup ecosystem is building tools and apps to encourage people to follow a healthy lifestyle.

Conclusion
All in all, the rapidly expanding sector presents immense growth opportunities. To leverage the growth potential both government and business groups need to collaborate to provide better medical care facilities to people. The government's Make in India initiative only underscore the importance such partnership.

This article has been authored by Chander Shekhar Sibal, Head Medical division, FujiFilm India.

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