Investors are seeing India as a key area for healthcare innovation
India is fast becoming one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical markets worldwide, with the potential to reach over $370bn by 2022 according to The Economic Times. With an increased ageing population, numbers of lifestyle diseases are beginning to rise, in addition to escalating healthcare and insurance costs which continually impact present healthcare services.
A recent paper titled 'Indian Healthcare Sector-An overview,' by ASSOCHAM and RNCOS has said: "Growing incidence of lifestyle diseases, rising demand for affordable healthcare delivery systems due to increasing healthcare costs, technological advancements, emergence of telemedicine, rapid health insurance penetration, mergers and acquisitions helping to reach untapped markets and government initiatives like e-health together with tax benefits, incentives and a host of upcoming regulatory policies are driving healthcare market in India."
The Indian government contribution to insurance is approximately 30%, which is in stark comparison to the United Kingdom’s which sits at over 80% by comparison. This has therefore priced a majority of the Indian population out of the market and has led to hospitals and healthcare services being under-financed and under-utilised.
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With growing gaps in employment, India is additionally witnessing a significant increase in health-tech start-ups and the implementation of medical devices, telemedicine services, online patient services and remote diagnostics within its acute healthcare facilities.
The country’s ‘Digital India’ programme encompasses the growth of the country’s digital healthcare infrastructure and use of digital platforms and mobile technologies.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) are also behind the launch of an Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP). The program will see the implementation of essential standards within the installation of electronic health records (EHR), providing increased transparency and utilisation of data through one central platform.
Furthermore, significant investment is being placed within India’s research and development capabilities and partnerships with foreign partners in order to develop and lessen the time to bring new drugs to market.
Recent foreign investment has come from companies such as Temasek, who will be acquiring a 16% stake in Manipal Hospitals, as well as Practo Technologies Pvt Ltd, who have raised $55mn in series D funding, led by Chinese investment company, Tencent Holdings Ltd, in order to expand its service offerings.
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”