Indian Medtech Industry: The Outlook For 2022

MedTech businesses will benefit from diversifying their product portfolios to meet Indian needs, writes Chander Shekhar Sibal, Senior Vice President, Medical Division, Fujifilm India

Biovoice News Aarogya Daksh
By Chander Shekhar Sibal, Senior Vice President, Medical Division, Fujifilm India

In India, the Medical technology (MedTech) market is on the upswing with an increasing demand for lower cost medical products and devices for diagnosis, monitoring, prevention and care. The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated the demand for smart and connected healthcare devices with which people can monitor their health at home. An important aspect of the healthcare industry, medical and digital health devices such as respirators and RT-PCR kits used information and communication technologies to inform the public about protecting themselves from the novel coronavirus, helping to to prevent its spread and helping save lives.
Teleradiology, Picture archiving and communication system (PACS), Digital Health along with AI are driving the growth of healthcare infrastructure in India. This has led to a data revolution where people and companies are taking digitisation and data seriously: it is either digitize or perish. The government’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ program has helped many MNCs to start manufacturing CT Scanners, Ultrasound and now MRI machines would also be produced in the Andhra Pradesh Medtech Zone (AMTZ), which will help in reducing the import-export imbalance in this industry currently.
Spillover effect for TB
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, point-of-care testing has become mainstream, leading to a focus on tuberculosis elimination. TB is a major health concern in India despite being a treatable disease. The pandemic’s measures such as mask usage, cleaning hands, and maintaining social distancing has also helped reduce the spread of TB. Frugal innovations like a microscope in mobile phones enabled by AI created by a young IIT Graduate from Mumbai has helped doctors diagnose TB in the early stage. Low Cost Lenses have also turned smartphones into microscopes.
Poised for growth
Today, the medtech industry in India is heavily dependent on imports – as many as 70% of the devices in the country are imported whole or in components. There is a clear void which Indian businesses can fill here and contribute to the growth of the homegrown market. Despite being in its infancy, the Indian MedTech market is predicted to explode in the next few years. India has a young population, but it also has close to 138 million ageing eldery men and women. As this number continues to rise, the need for better healthcare will also stem both at home and in health care facilities. In addition to this, favorable government policies and regulations, increased health insurance coverage, and growing medical tourism will provide an impetus to the industry.
A favourable environment
India’s healthcare sector is expected to reach $372 billion in 2022 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of roughly 22% since 2016, according to NITI Aayog. The medical device industry states that there is a significant under-penetration of medical devices in the market – this means that not only is it a first-mover’s market, but also that there is plenty of room for growth. The Indian government has also encouraged the sector’s expansion and growth with favourable policies: In 2014, it designated the medical devices sector as a “sunrise sector” under the “Make in India” initiative. As a result, India has put strategies such as strengthening R&D and expanding production through the 100 percent FDI method  to boost the sector.
Growth through diversity
MedTech businesses will benefit from diversifying their product portfolios to meet Indian needs. By creating training and awareness activities, they can expand the reach of their current product line with higher adoption. They can develop commercial models which make healthcare more accessible to the general public, and service models which deliver healthcare to the doorstep. Constant innovation and R&D will ensure that companies invest in and create new product lines that suit the requirements of the patient population. Last, but not the least, companies can also enhance or re-engineer device features to make them more suitable for use in India. Inter-device and system integration, like Fujifilm’s SYNAPSE PACS system that manages, stores and exploits diagnostic imaging data, and being used by over 5,500 facilities globally, is useful. With this system and integration abilities, companies can provide a bird’s eye view for better patient management and outcomes.
Upcoming trends
In this digital age, having an IT foundation will be immensely beneficial for the medtech industry. With multiple technologies progressing rapidly in the healthcare industry, medtech companies have a massive scope to innovate, deploy and provide truly utilitarian solutions for Indians. Collaborating with stakeholders across industries such as manufacturing, IT, and local businesses may provide ample opportunities to engineer solutions specific to Indian problems.
Telehealth, especially telemedicine, is expected to grow rapidly as more people get comfortable with the idea of home consultations. Digital Therapeutics, Remote Patient Monitoring, Digital Prescriptions and Digital Health Records are en route to transform India’s file-driven patient system into a digital one with countless benefits. The use of AI, Automation, and cloud computing will also radically change the game of the health landscape.
As we move forward, we need to bridge the gap between the masses and healthcare accessibility, and this is possible through medtech innovations, making medical education accessible to all, focusing on upskilling the medical community, and promoting healthcare as a booming industry with fulfilling careers.
We must solidify the knowledge and learnings from the past two years and institutionalize them as organizational competencies. This is a surefire way to create a hotbed of innovation and capabilities which will make us stronger as a country. Therefore, there are endless possibilities when it comes to innovation in healthcare, and with the fast paced developments there is immense potential to further build an advanced healthcare ecosystem for a better tomorrow.

*The above views expressed by the author are his own.