Investing in a digital healthcare platform

The growth spurt in digital healthcare stems from the need for quality healthcare

By Vinod Kumar Reddy

Healthcare may have been a laggard in the fast-changing world dominated by digital technologies and internet-of-things, but the field is catching up with newer entrants and startups that tap into the opportunity by shaping the landscape with disruptive business models. Aimed at the tech-savvy generation, these forces bring to their customers a slew of online services ranging from doctor’s appointments to healthcare at the doorstep.

The key drivers
The growth spurt in digital healthcare stems from the need for quality healthcare that leverages the country’s competitive advantage of well-trained professionals. Improving accessibility through partial or complete elimination of geographical limitations is yet another requirement. With an increased preference for availing treatment at private hospitals, and most expenses being made out-of-pocket, there is also the need to bring down healthcare costs tremendously. Startup companies that operate in the digital healthcare domain by solving one or more of these problems find increased acceptance not only among its end users but also investors. Focusing on solutions and reinvented business models that cater to such needs help them gain ground and competitive advantage in a field that is majorly dominated by traditional healthcare service providers.

Niche Vs. unified services
The domain of digital healthcare includes both niche players as well as those that offer a basket of services under one umbrella. Startups that bring disruptive products and solutions by combining technology with medicine are as lucrative as those that solve pain points of medical practitioners and patients. Personalised medicine that employs genome focused research and development to treat chronic illnesses is one such niche offering that has attracted investor attention in recent years. So are the wearable devices! With an improved ability to detect, collect, and store specific biometrics, these devices are poised to compete with clinical grade devices in the near future. Yet others include companies that offer digital solutions for therapeutic impact, supporting healthy lifestyle, and preventing or curbing chronic illnesses.

An equally thriving concept is that of healthcare e-commerce that plugs the ‘shopping’ model into treatment, patient care, diagnostics, and the like. Such startups that focus on bringing healthcare services to the doorstep add value to patients as well as service providers. Through location specific offering, these new age companies are able to improve discoverability and bring transparency into an area, otherwise dominated by referrals, and word-of-mouth information and choices. Their ability to solve operational inefficiencies and tap into the internet, gadget, and information savvy consumers is what makes them tick with investors.

Another field of interest to healthcare investors is m-health. With smartphone users ever on the rise, startups are plunging themselves to gather consumer, patient or end-user data, and convert them into actionable insights. Combined with wearable and implantable devices, as well as remote technologies, mobile health apps can collect patient records, improve doctor-patient engagement, tweak treatments, promote a heathy lifestyle, and much more.

Building scale through value
The share of investments in the digital healthcare industry continues to be on the rise and with increasing competition, more investors are choosing to partner with digital healthcare start-ups. Though recent trends indicate a focus on mature start-ups which bag the prize by unlocking value and spurring growth, a number of independent innovative start-ups have also captured the eyeballs of investors through their disruptive ideas and dynamic business approach. All big or small entrants in the digital healthcare domain who have seen success with their value-adding products and services, or that have been embraced by the market as a unique solution provider garner more attention and money, which is then used to scale their offering.
As more companies and investors venture into the domain of digital healthcare, the start-ups that make a mark will be those that bring in medical cost savings, better health outcomes, and seamless experiences by integrating healthcare services to a single platform.