November 2010

Indigenous Technology for Priceless Healthcare

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Promoting indigenous medical technology innovations is crucial for maintaining the current momentum of growth in the Indian medical technology industry

By Divya Chawla

The Indian healthcare market boasts of best-in-class healthcare with world-class facilities and world renowned specialists offering comparatively lower costs of services as compared to many other nations. “Presently the Indian healthcare industry is pacing rapidly and is expected to become a US$280 billion industry by 2020. As per print reports, the market was estimated at US$35 billion in 2007 and is expected to reach over US$70 billion by 2012 and US$145 billion by 2017”, says Dr Shakti K Gupta, Head, Department of Hospital Administration & Medical Superintendent, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. However, this seems more like a paradox as on the one hand the country’s healthcare industry is attracting medical tourists from all over the world and on the other, the industry is characterised by a major lack of accessible, affordable and quality health services for a large part of its population. Dr Gupta believes that “the limited healthcare facilities available in the country are skewed more in favour of the affluent category of population. India faces a huge need gap in terms of availability of number of hospital beds per 1000 population. With a world average of 2.5 hospital beds per 1000 population, India stands just a little over 0.7 hospital beds per 1000 population.” “There can be no better example than India to illustrate the need for medical technology for improving healthcare delivery. The influence of medical technology is all pervasive and its positive impact is not only limited to the upper crust of society, but it also has the potential to help the poorer lot”, he adds.


Market Insight

Milind Shah
Vice President – South Asia, India Medtronic Pvt Ltd

“Addressing areas like world-class regulations, quality healthcare infrastructure, contemporary and latest trainings and education, would greatly help India to position itself as the best-in-class medical device destination.”

The medical technology industry is one of the largest and fastest growing segments within the healthcare industry. Rise in the number of hospitals and increasing requirement of healthcare facilities is creating a need for sophisticated devices and equipments which can provide accurate treatment to individuals. The global market for medical technology is on a high growth trajectory and India too has joined the bandwagon of being one of the fastest growing countries in this sector. “India is a very high potential market and is currently undergoing an extremely exciting growth phase.  With the boom in investment by private hospitals, increase in infrastructure spend, increasing penetration of private insurance and reimbursement schemes by government, the US$ 3 billion medical equipment sector  looks all set to  grow rapidly with CAGR of more than 15 percent over the next 5 years”, states Milind Shah, Vice President – South Asia, India Medtronic Pvt Ltd. He adds that, “the growth drivers in India have made the medical device sector one of the most promising markets. More than the size of the market, it’s projected growth rate of over 15 percent vis-a-vis 7-8 percent in the US and Europe is very attractive.”

Indigenous Innovations

Despite the unlimited opportunities in the medical technology space, the segment has not received much attention as far as indigenous manufacture is concerned. Reports state that almost 75 percent of the sector in India comprises of imported equipment, purchased at exorbitant costs, which indirectly add up to the cost of care delivery. “Medical technology is the fastest growing healthcare segment in India and though it has been ignored on several counts for the past three decades, we are seeing some momentum off late in this field. But still there is vast gap between demand and supply. To meet the demand for providing quality cost effective care to the government segment and affordable healthcare to the private segment. Unless we do something drastically with government’s help to bring down the import dependency on this segment, India will not be able to achieve the goal of Quality Healthcare for all by 2020”, says Dr GSK Velu, Managing Director, Trivitron Group of Companies.

Dr Shakti K Gupta
Head, Dept of Hospital Administration & MS, AIIMS

“Innovation and collaboration are the two pillars on which medical technology in India can leap forward to deliver the desired results and take Indian healthcare to greater heights.”

“In a country like India healthcare delivery solutions have to be affordable, reliable, resilient, easy to distribute, and easy to use. The government and industry should work synergistically to metamorphose the health sector by encouraging innovation. Optimisation of healthcare, to which equipment, appliances and technology makes a significant contribution, must be subjected to a critical qualitative appraisal using scientific methods”, adds Dr Gupta. The key to make modern care affordable and accessible to all sections of the society lies in indigenous medical technology innovations. There are only about 700 medical device manufacturers in India that mostly manufacture low-value products such as needles, syringes, catheters, blood collection tubes, medical electronics and implants. High-end specialist products by still catered by foreign companies. Shah adds, “The medical technology industry is highly innovative and technologies that were considered to be a part of fiction, till recently, are already a reality. Innovation is not only related to product, but the process of assisting patients’ access to modern medical technology, as well. While the clinical benefit and resulting impact on increase in lifespan and quality of life are impressive, the penetration of medical devices in India is only tip of the iceberg with less than 2 percent population gaining these benefits.”

Rajiv Doshi
utive Director (United States)
Stanford-India Biodesign

“The Government of India has been a wonderful supporter of Stanford-India Biodesign, which promotes medical technology innovations” both in supporting its creation and ution.”

Various stakeholders are now trying to build up this industry in India in different ways. For instance, Trivitron Healthcare, under Dr Velu’s guidance, has set up a Trivitron Innovation Centre in partnership with IIT Madras, at their facility. This research centre is aimed at innovation, designs and IPs in medical technology. Philips Medical, one of the leaders in the medical technology industry worldwide, has also set up a Philips Innovation Centre at Bangalore Software Technology Park that will purely focus on developing and manufacturing equipment. Philips is confident that this will drastically bring down the cost of products. Anjan Bose, Head of Professional and Public Affairs, Philips Electronics India Ltd, mentioned at a conference held recently that a cath lab, which currently costs approximately `2-3 crore, will be then available for around `1 crore. Another key initiative in this space has been setting up of Stanford-India Biodesign Centre by Stanford University in close collaboration with AIIMS, IIT Delhi and Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. “There are a series of programs offered by Stanford-India Biodesign. The flagship offering is a multidisciplinary, team-based, one to two year fellowship program designed to train future leaders of the Indian medical technology industry. Housed both at Stanford and in Delhi, the Fellowship trains engineers and physicians to identify major healthcare needs in India and develop solutions that are cost-effective and widely deployable across a broad socio-economic spectrum”, says Dr Rajiv Doshi, utive Director (United States), Stanford-India Biodesign.

Underlying Opportunities

The ongoing initiatives in the Indian medical technology industry have created a wave of excitement with all stakeholders, including the government and the technology providers, who are getting equally involved. At this stage, it is crucial to maintain the current momentum of the growth and development of this sector.

Dr GSK Velu
Managing Director
Trivitron Group of Companies

“Medical technology segment needs a specific tailor made incentive package for local innovation/manufacturing, encouragement for large scale R&D/manufacturing and restrictions for free trading by MNCs without manufacturing initiatives in India to promote indigenous innovations. “

As Shah put in, “In future, demand will be driven by devices/technologies that offer higher value in terms of better clinical outcomes, improved quality of life, reduced mortality in critical conditions, ease of use for the clinicians, reduced hospitalisation and cost as measured over the life span of an individual. The focus is increasingly on value of medical technology, which can be promoted through indigenous manufacture.”

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