How Should HealthTech Startups Think about Growth after NDHM?
On September 27, 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (or National Digital Health Mission “NDHM”) to enable consent-based access and exchange of longitudinal health records of 1Bn+ citizens via a centralized health repository.
Each citizen will be assigned a health ID (similar to an Aadhar number), which will be linked to all their personal health records and can be utilized to share data with their healthcare providers. Over time, all healthcare providers and beneficiaries (including diagnostic centres, pharmas, insurance underwriters, etc.) would need to link themselves to the centralized app to enable exchange and access of data.
Today, growing awareness of value-based and preventive healthcare is making Indians increasingly seek digital mediums to avail healthcare services at their convenience.
The Indian healthtech market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 39% from $1.9Bn in 2020 to $5Bn by 2025. This coupled with the government’s plan to shape the next healthcare evolution via NDHM is bound to take the segment to a new height and also create multiple opportunities for startups.
To start with, let’s get an overview of the 6 pillars of NDHM:
With this revolution underway, healthtech startups will need to reimagine their offerings and build solutions on top of the common digital infrastructure:
- Digitizing and managing health records
Physical health records can be misplaced or not carried along during consultations, which prevents doctors, dieticians, insurers, etc. from offering the most appropriate solutions. Digitization and storage of health records solves this and forms the core of NDHM.
Startups can not only help people’s health records be digitized and stored in the centralized safe vault but also build mechanisms to enable consent-based data sharing between health information users and health information providers on a case-by-case basis.
For instance, people often find scanning and digitizing paper records cumbersome, giving startups an opportunity to create newer and easier processes.
Eka.care* has already made significant progress on this front. You can check out the features they offer by downloading their app.
2. Building and sharing analytics
Today, health research is mostly based on sporadic health data or small sample sizes. Due to the inclusion of the entire health ecosystem in one place, NDHM will lead to a nationwide data repository.
Startups can facilitate analysis of longitudinal health data and enable wider clinical research to arrive at cohort-based results which can significantly impact healthcare outcomes. This can be:
a) Shared with insurance companies to create efficient insurance packages and reduce out-of-pocket expenses.
These analytics will also give them alternative data to help identify potential habits that a person is likely to adopt or has already adopted, such as the proximity of green spaces or smoking habits.
b) Given to pharmas for targeted delivery. For example, if a certain medicine is working well for a particular age group, they can determine how to best market to that cohort nationwide.
3. Subscription-based healthcare
There’s a shift in how people view healthcare today. They are moving from curative care to preventive care. However, hospitals often cannot curate their services for each individual. This can be changed with NDHM.
Startups can participate here by building subscription-based models (or managed care services) with a holistic plan for each individual. For instance, a person seeking mental healthcare who is also prone to diabetes can be given 10 different visits to providers, such as 3 to the psychologist, 2 to the endocrinologist, 2 to the dietician, and so on.
This will reduce the overall cost for the patient, who at present has to schedule and pay higher for individual visits, as well as help healthcare providers utilize their resources better.
4. Health facility verifiers
Digitization could bring with itself the question of trust and authenticity. While NDHM would document all health providers, startups too can aid in this process.
They can facilitate healthcare providers in registering on the platform and making sure their information is up to date. In turn, startups can encourage more patients to use their platform by providing verified information about the providers’ record (qualifications, how renowned they are, how many similar patients they have treated, etc.).
5. Self health management apps
People are increasingly recognizing the need for sustained, wellness oriented care rather than just episodic care. NDHM’s digitization opens doors for startups to step in and cater to this.
Healthtech companies can help patients with post-consultation care by creating new health trackers, reminders for diets and following prescriptions, etc. and adding interactive nudges to make or meet their next appointments.
Once NDHM is adopted nationwide, healthtech startups will become a part of a more collaborative and interactive digital health landscape. In the meantime, going by the comfort people have shown in using healthtech services during the pandemic, they are likely to seek better and newer solutions. And startups need to be ready to jump on the bandwagon.
*Eka.care is a part of our portfolio.