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The market for wearable devices reached 4.2 million units in India this year. Getty
The market for wearable devices reached 4.2 million units in India this year. Getty

Self-diagnostic devices biz soars

Industry experts say while traditionally blood pressure monitors and diabetes kits have formed the bulk of the demand, the pandemic has caused a spike in demand for oximeters and pulse monitors

Manufacturers of health-tech devices that allow users to self-diagnose ailments and monitor health risks are seeing a surge in sales growth amid the coronavirus pandemic. Such devices are fast becoming part of household essentials across the country.

“We have witnessed a 30% growth in sales in the months following the pandemic outbreak," said Rohit Saini, general manager, marketing and sales, Omron Healthcare India, a leading manufacturer of portable diagnostic devices. Over half of the growth is from tier-I cities Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, he said.

Industry experts said that while traditionally blood pressure monitors and diabetes kits have formed the bulk of the demand, the pandemic has caused a spike in demand for oximeters and pulse monitors.

“Taking healthcare to people requires it to be portable, wireless and inexpensive. It’s found quite a niche in the US and we’re optimistic that the same niche of delivering information to the doctors who are urban from patients who are rural will find its place in India," said David E. Albert, founder and chief medical officer of AliveCor.

The company entered India earlier this month with a device called KardiaMobile 6L, a personal ECG device approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. It has tied up with Amazon and 1MG to sell the device, in addition to its own website.

According to Mudit Dandwate, CEO and co-founder of Turtle Shell, patients at risk of heart ailments, hypertension and age-related conditions are also among target customers. Turtle Shell makes a sleep monitoring device called Dozee, which is used for remote health monitoring at home and in hospitals. The device is used by doctors to monitor patients’ conditions remotely, while customers are also buying them to proactively monitor their health.

“We are also seeing an increasing demand from elderly patients who are at risk of heart ailments but are unable to visit the hospital for daily tests," he said. The company said it garnered about 15% of its total sales in the last quarter.

Consumer technology firms are also gaining from the trend. According to the International Data Corp. (IDC), the market for wearable devices reached 4.2 million units in India this year. A spokesperson from consumer technology firm Xiaomi, which leads the wearable market, said personal health has taken centre-stage.

The firm introduced a heart-rate tracker on its budget wearable, the Mi Band, earlier and is adding features like stress monitoring and personal activity intelligence on its smartwatch, launched on Monday.

Tech giant Apple has added a blood oxygen monitor on its newest Apple Watch, announced earlier this month. The company’s wearable already has ECG and heart-rate tracking capabilities.

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