The Contactless Economy in Healthcare, Health News, ET HealthWorld


  • The Contactless Economy in Healthcareby Sameer Agarwal

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated contactless payments everywhere, and healthcare institutions across the countries have become the latest to welcome this mode of transaction.

The Indian healthcare industry is set to reach $372 billion by 2022. The hospital industry in India, accounting for 80% of the total healthcare market, is witnessing a huge investor demand from domestic as well as global investors. This will lead the industry to grow from $61.8 billion in 2017 to $132 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 16-17%.

The Indian government aims to increase healthcare spending to 2.5 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) by 2025. The COVID-19 pandemic has also transformed the way government and private players are planning to bring about changes in the healthcare system.

One of the major reasons behind India’s digital surge is the rise of digital connectivity. Reports indicate that digital connectivity in India is expected to grow from 15% in 2014 to 80% access in 2034. Furthermore, the number of rural internet users are reported to be increasing by 58% annually. This will only boost healthcare accessibility in rural areas.

With 462 million active internet users and 430 million active mobile internet users in India, eHealth services and solutions have undergone a major transition.

There has been an increased focus on telemedicine services since the start of the pandemic. This will also be enhanced by the government’s recent introduction of the Pradhan Mantri Digital Health Mission in the effort to accelerate digital health in India.

And in the current urban situation where internet access is far higher than the national average, the number of potential consumers, especially from the corporate sector provides an untapped opportunity for healthcare providers to facilitate and expand the span of preventive medicine and wellness programs beyond conventional boundaries. Further, the pandemic has resulted in a surge in the need for digital payment solutions, and cashless and contactless payments are becoming the norm.

The use of smartphones and the Internet continues to increase year on year in India, estimated currently at a CAGR of 20-30%. Some studies predict that the number of smartphones in India will surpass that of the US in the next few years, making it easier to connect rural and remote areas and provide quality healthcare to rural India.

During the pandemic, the government passed the resolution on video and audio consults for healthcare. This move led to the start of the digital revolution in healthcare as many corporate hospital chains released their applications (apps) through which consults are provided, reports are uploaded, family records taken care of, and payment made.

All this is leading to a revolution in which healthcare will be delivered in the future. There are over 3,000 health tech start-ups in India that are providing services ranging from delivery of pharmacy products to video consults. They are driving health and wellbeing through technology.

In India, families living in tier I or metro cities are closer to hospitals and healthcare infrastructure than those living in tier II and tier III cities. However, thanks to the penetration of mobile phones and cheap data, we are seeing a digital revolution, including contactless payment options that have given people in tier II and tier III cities access to affordable healthcare. Further, health tech and healthcare investments, both private and public, have boosted the delivery of healthcare by using technology, making it contactless.

On 27th September 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (the pilot was launched by the PM on August 15, 2020), thereby, providing a Health ID for every Indian. This would be a landmark shift and help create digital health records, that, in my view, will usher in the next digital and technology-led revolution in India. In fact, as per reports, more than 14 crore health IDs have already been created under this initiative.

To conclude, the world is rapidly accepting contactless payment options. With strong banking and anti-fraud regulations set up by the national regulator – the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the rise of quick payment services, as well as transparent and innovative fin-tech solutions have ensured businesses, including healthcare institutions, adapt to a contactless economy.

Further, the rise of the contactless economy will only push India towards achieving universal healthcare, while continuously attracting investment in both public and private health infrastructures. All these opportunities will push India to become a global leader in digital health.

Sameer Agarwal, Group CFO, Manipal Hospitals

(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETHealthworld.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETHealthworld.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.)





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