The past three decades have seen India’s GDP grow at a steady 7 percent. However, the healthcare spend has stayed low at 1.2 percent of the GDP, ranking the country abysmally 145 among 195 countries on the healthcare index.
This is changing now with the present government improving access to healthcare with policies promising health insurance worth INR 500K ($ 7k) to over 100 million families annually and targeting healthcare spend to 2.5% by the end of the 12th five year plan, and 3% by 2022.
And this change will alter the sector fundamentally as the stress is now on affordability and inclusivity. Whereas current capacity in the private sector is designed for premium service for a select few.
Such paradoxes provide a fertile ground for startups to germinate. Plus increased internet access combined with lack of expert healthcare (India has shortage of an estimated 600,000 doctors) is leading to an opportunity explosion for healthcare startups in the areas of online pharmacy, telemedicine, personal health management, home healthcare, fitness & wellness, diagnostics, biotech R&D, medical devices, healthcare IT, AI, biopharma and genomics. As of 2018, there are around 5000 startups in the Indian healthtech space, raising $500 million between 2014-2018.
Let us look at some of the healthcare startups of the country.
Their app assists patients in finding doctors near their location, and helps them connect with the doctors directly and instantly. It empowers patients by helping them communicate with a network of doctors, while keeping them anonymous. With over 1, 00, 000 doctors from various specializations, all connected with its service, Lybrate provides instant support to patients over the phone or through appointments.
The founders Rahul Narang and Saurabh Arora felt that there was a compelling need to dispel the practice of chemists and pharmacists prescribing wrong medicines to patients, and thus conceptualized Lybrate. Founded in 2013, this Delhi based startup has raised a total of $14.4M in funding over 3 rounds led by investor Tiger Global.
Portea is a startup based out of Bengaluru. Founded in 2013 by K Ganesh and Meena Ganesh, and currently operating in over 21 cities in India, Portea offers patients home visits from doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, and technicians and helps doctors and medical professionals monitor patients who can’t travel to hospitals. It also uploads patients’ data to an EMR platform and uses predictive analytics to understand their health trends. It currently offers critical care at home, respiratory services, sleep apnea care, palliative care, cancer support services, post-trauma care, specialised rehab services, and end-of-life care. Portea Medical has raised a total of $76.1M in funding over 5 rounds through investors Alteria Capital, Sabre Partners and MEMG CDC. Ventures.
Started with the aim of fighting the skewed ophthalmologist-to-patient ratio in India in 2010, Forus Health is using technology to make it possible. With its portable innovative product 3nethra, screening of common eye problems which can lead to blindness is just a few minutes affair. They have had over 1,300 installations across 26 countries, and this Bengaluru-based startup, founded by K Chandrasekhar has thus impacted over two million lives in a positive way. Their newest product aims at detecting Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a disease that leads to blindness among premature babies, due to excess of oxygen or the effect of drugs used to save them. Forus Health has raised a total of $13.4M in funding over 2 rounds from investors Asian Healthcare Fund, Accel and IDG.
Conceived originally as an academic project between Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, Mitra Biotech was established in India in 2009. Dr. Mallik Sunderram and Dr. Pradip K. Majumdar led this project. The very well-funded startup uses proprietary technology to research and develop cost-efficient and personalised cancer care and drugs. Their trademark product is CANScript™, a multi-dimensional platform allowing investigative procedures within the patient’s tumour with high specificity, so as to better cater to their condition. Mitra Biotech has raised a total of $74.5M in funding over 5 rounds from investors Northpond Ventures, Accel, Sequoia Capital, Sands Capital Ventures, and RA Capital Management.
Started by entrepreneur Vipul Jain in 2013, the Noida-based startup provides stem cell therapies in India. Also known as regenerative medicine, stem cell therapy is considered the next big thing in potential in organ transplantation. The technology has been found capable of treating various diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, stroke and heart diseases. With a team mostly consisting of scientists, Advancells processes the bone marrow or adipose tissue from a patient and separates the stem cells. These are further processed in a laboratory for treatment procedures. At the moment, there are around 55 hospitals in the country that use the therapies devised by the startup. Advancells has $6.3M in estimated revenue annually. The big challenge for Advancells, which bagged a series of awards including the Best Stem Cell Technology R&D company at the Global CEO Excellence Awards, Company of The Year by ACQ5 Global Award, Best Quality Initiative in Healthcare and Best Product Innovation at CMO Asia Healthcare Excellence Award has been funding.
Founded in 2016 by, Mukesh Bansal, co-founder of fashion retailer Myntra and Ankit Nagori ex-chief business officer at Flipkart, Cure.Fit operates gyms under the Cult.Fit brand, healthy food offerings under Eat.Fit, mental wellness through Mind.Fit, and diagnostic centres through Care.fit. The Bengaluru-based health and fitness startup has raised $75 million in a Series D funding round through investors Accel Growth, Kalaari Capital, IDG Ventures India, Anand Piramal Trust and Pratithi Investment Trust who are backing the unique pay-per day kind of innovation it has brought to working out.
PlasmaGen BioSciences is an Indian Biopharmaceutical organization specializing in Plasma Protein Therapy with products such as Albumin, IVIG, Factor VIII, Anti-D Immunoglobulin and Rabies Immunoglobulin. Pursuing a vision of ushering in the Plasma Protein industry in India & SAARC nations, the Bengaluru based startup has already raised $25 million (Rs. 160.4 crore) through Eight Roads Ventures with participation from US-based F-Prime Capital Partners and the founders. PlasmaGen is founded by Vinod Nahar, who is also running RSM Pharma, a pharmaceutical distributor, and Trigenesis Lifesciences, a healthcare products company catering to international markets.
Bengaluru-based startup Osteo3d, a cloud-based, pre-surgical, planning platform founded by Deepak Raj Karunakara, was launched to provide 3D printing technology for the creation of patient-specific models and surgical guides. It garnered a lot of attention when in March 2015, the startup was noticed and got funded by the Government of India itself. The Department of Biotechnology sanctioned a grant of Rs. 50 lakh to the startup as it understood the revolutionary potential of this technology. Osteo3d has already had 50+ cases, in cranial, orthopedic, and maxillofacial surgical procedures, where they have proved to be cost efficient and truly life changing.