5G Key to Unlocking Opportunities For Digital Health Startups

Teleconsultation schemes like e-Sanjivini have already benefited 100 million people. Startups in the digital health sector can take advantage of 5G technology, while drones are bringing revolutionary changes to medicine delivery and testing services.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a Post Budget Webinar on Health and Medical Research, where he spoke about the government’s vision for holistic healthcare for all creatures, the importance of strong health infrastructure, and the role of technology in making medical services accessible and affordable.

How has Digital India transformed the health sector?

The Prime Minister stated that healthcare could be seen in terms of pre and post-Covid pandemic systems. He emphasized the importance of wellness and the need for holistic healthcare for all. He reiterated the lessons learnt with regard to supply chain during the pandemic and said that it has become a matter of great concern.

The Prime Minister noted the absence of an integrated long-term vision for health for many decades after Independence. He said that the government is now pushing the whole-of-the-government approach instead of limiting the subject of health to just the Health Ministry. The Prime Minister said that making medical treatment affordable has been the top-most priority of the government.

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He pointed out that through Ayushman Bharat, about 80 thousand crore rupees of the poor patients were saved due to free treatment under the scheme. The Prime Minister also highlighted that affordable medicines through 9000 Jan Aushadhi Kendras have saved about 20 thousand crore rupees of the poor and middle classes all over the country. This means that just these two schemes saved one lakh crore rupees of the citizens.

The Prime Minister underlined the importance of strong health infrastructure for the treatment of serious ailments. He informed that more than 1.5 lakh health centres are being developed in close proximity to homes across the country so that testing centres and first aid are available. He also informed that facilities for screening serious ailments like diabetes, cancer, and heart-related issues will also be available at these centres. The PM-Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission is not only giving rise to new hospitals but is also creating a new and complete health ecosystem.

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 Technology: A Boon for Health Startups

The Prime Minister emphasized the role of technology in constantly making medical services accessible and affordable. He elaborated on the government’s focus on the implementation of technology in the sector. “We want to give timely healthcare to the citizens through the facility of Digital Health ID. 10 crore people have already benefited by teleconsultation through schemes like e-Sanjivini”, he said. 5G is creating new opportunities in this sector for Startups. Drones are bringing revolutionary changes in medicine delivery and testing services.

Regarding human resources in the sector, the Prime Minister informed that more than 260 new medical colleges have been opened in the last few years. This has doubled the medical seats in graduate and postgraduate medical courses as compared to 2014. The Prime Minister underlined the emphasis on the nursing field in this year’s Budget. “Opening 157 nursing colleges in the vicinity of the medical colleges is a huge step in the direction of medical human resources. This may be useful in fulfilling global demand, not just the domestic need”, he added.

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 a Skilled Manpower Pipeline for the Future of Medical Technology, High-End Manufacturing, and Research

The Prime Minister listed the required institutional response in this regard. He informed about the new schemes in the medical device sector. He mentioned Bulk drug parks, medical device parks, more than 30 thousand crores on PLI schemes and said that the last few years have witnessed 12-14 per cent growth in medical devices. He informed that this market is reaching rupees 4 lakh crore in coming years. The Prime Minister also said that India has started work on skilled manpower for future medical technology and high-end manufacturing and research.

Highlighting the growing confidence of the world in the pharma sector of India, the Prime Minister emphasized the need for proper coordination between the private sector and academia. “Today the market size of the pharma sector is 4 lakh crores. It can be worth 10 lakh crores with proper coordination between the private sector and academia”, he said.

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Concluding the address, the Prime Minister stressed that a developed health and wellness ecosystem can be created in India only with Sabka Prayas (everyone's efforts) and requested all stakeholders to give in their valuable suggestions. “We should be able to implement the Budget provisions within the time limit for decided targets with a concrete roadmap. Realizing all the dreams on the ground before the next Budget while taking all stakeholders along will require the benefit of your experience”, he told the participants.