December 2014

Sky is the Limit

Ravi Gupta

Ravi-GuptaInnovations in the field of biochemistry have always kept rewriting the Patents Act. Money minted in the laboratories across the nooks and corners bear testimony to the resilient global biochemistry market grow through numerous onslaughts, including recurring twists and turns in regulation, and corporate culture building its own pressure mechanisms. Dynamics of this industry, coupled with anthropocentricism, have shown signs of reinventing itself in line with the new researches, developments, and values.


Indian biochemistry analyzers and reagents showed significant growth figures in 2014, estimated at Rs.735 crore reagents contributed a major 75 percent to the total market. A conservative analysis attributed this remarkable turnaround to increased healthcare awareness, earnest desire for preventive health checkups, and easy availability of specific tests.

India now spends Rs.400,000 crore annually on health, but commercial health insurance covers only Rs.20,000 crore, not only because of low penetration but primarily also because of current health insurance products focus on hospitalization.

The recent entry of specialist health insurers appears to have changed the grammar of insurance coverage. Now an industry can shift its focus from secondary and tertiary care and include more preventive and primary care. However, retail segment, and outpatient health spends continue to be virgin territories, waiting to be explored.


Besides, changing disease and age-profiles of the market are another opportunity in terms of specialized health financing structures for chronic diseases and the elderly population.

The challenge is how to evolve health financing mechanisms to not only deliver the benefit of pooling and quality to large segments of the population, but also create a platform for health financing to encompass primary and preventive care including outpatient diagnostics and pharmaceutical coverage.

Fast raging medical inflation has made health financing difficult. Fortunately, India has stayed out of this problem. Disrupted biological clocks, reversed lifestyles have only added to the woes, though. Preventive care and chronic condition management is key to management of overall cost escalation.

It is high time a mechanism was created for primary care to get the lions share of health spend in India. It is indeed possible to aggregate a providers capacity for primary care. There can be as many kinds of providers as possible, including the government programs as well as commercial insurers. Primary care has enough space to accommodate all players. Only sky is the limit for healthcare.

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