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Human capital, virtual care, private investment in healthcare and digitization of health records are some of the big challenges facing the healthcare industry post the pandemic, said top healthcare investment professionals at the Mint Investment Summit. While it was a known fact that the Indian healthcare infrastructure had massive shortfalls, the last two years have shown that to build a resilient economy, a strong healthcare sector is an absolute must.

According to Vishal Bali, Executive Chairman, Asia Healthcare Holdings (AHH), the deployment of virtualization of healthcare is the biggest change that happened post the pandemic, with the government relaxing its telemedicine rules.

“The future belongs to physical and virtual healthcare together. In the next three years we will have about 10-15% of first-time consults going virtual. What needs to be done is enablement. The government has been wanting to spend 2.5% of GDP on healthcare. None of it has happened. There should be enablement of virtual care -- 900 million people are going to be sitting with internet access... is really the path to go. If we are able to bring both of these together, we will see a different healthcare world," Bali said.

Manish Gaur, Managing Director, Multiples Alternate Asset Management Private Limited believes that technology is playing a pivotal role in preventive healthcare with people becoming less reactive and more proactive.

“If you see the whole value chain, earlier healthcare was about you get a disease and then you try to manage it. There is increased awareness of making it clear to a larger populace that you can do much more to prevent through regular preventive check ups," Gaur said.

According to Puncham Mukim, Managing Director, Everstone Capital Advisors, the Ayushman Bharat mission has aggregated the massively fragmented healthcare ecosystem and introduced more accountability and options for treatment.

Amit Verma, Managing Partner, Quadria Capital, said the answer to having a reliable policy for a robust healthcare system lies in creating reliable data. He called for “making the GP paramount person for the well being of the patient."

We will never create enough infrastructure to treat all patients. Third most important thing is making it all affordable. Just because we are poor, does not mean we should get away with shoddy quality. We need to rerate reliable reproducible data. If we have to come up with reliable public health policy, we have to start creating data," said Amit Varma, Managing Partner, Quadria Capital

While all the participants agreed that there is a need to boost infrastructure, they believe that there is a need to remove the entry barriers for capital to come into the sector.

“Backend infrastructure needs to be strengthened. Policies need to be made easier to invest in the sector. To avoid going to the doctor or primary healthcare centre, Investment in the insurance sector which back up healthcare become very relevant. Entry barriers to start an insurance company are massive. Healthcare is incentivized by that. If we help the infrastructure around healthcare, that will add to making healthcare more robust," said Kunaal Shah, Partner, Trilegal.

Visalakshi Chandramouli, Managing Partner, Tata Capital Healthcare Fund highlighted the importance of pharma sector and the role start-ups can play in the this sector.

“Within the pharma sector, India is unique in terms of dual challenge of chronic and acute challenge of disease. There could be start-ups which can address that particular challenge. How do you bring about a platform or have specific start-ups which address this chronic challenge, be it on system basis, or infectious disease," said Chandramouli..

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gopika Gopakumar

Gopika Gopakumar has worked for over 15 years as a banking journalist across print and television media. Her expertise lies in breaking big corporate stories and producing news based TV shows. She was part of the 2013 IMF Journalism Fellowship Program where she covered the Annual & Spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. She started her career with CNBC-TV18, where she also produced a news feature show called Indianomics and an award winning show on business stories from South India called Up South. She joined Mint in 2016.
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