2024 India Healthcare and Lifesciences Investment Heatmap

2024 India Healthcare and Lifesciences Investment Heatmap

In 2024, the world will be as uncertain, if not more, as it was and anticipating what will happen next is an ever more challenging task for our Algorithms and our teams. Since 2013, our algorithms have been accurately predicting the investment heatmap in the healthcare and life sciences in India which were predicting with 95% accuracy on the sectoral investment cycle in India till the end of 2019. Since the Covid Pandemic in 2020 we lowered levels of prediction accuracy like we started back in 2013. The fake narratives and echo chambers that were peddled during the pandemic years of 2020-22, that vitiated our predictions during the pandemic years continues in for some other factors. 2023 was even more unpredictable in many ways. Our algos do not penetrate the terrorists, government intelligence and security networks and hence unable to consider events that playouts in the Middle East and impacting geopolitics, investments in Indian Healthcare and Life Sciences to some part of the investment flows from offshore. Hence, we have made attempts to analyse International ‘Geo Politics’ as a separate factor and bolt-on-top of our algo predictive models to adjust our heat map for 2024 to accurately predict whether the heat is on in our 2024 Heat Map.

2024: A Year of Geopolitics than Geo Economics

The biggest political event in India in 2024 will be the Lok Sabha General Elections. Hence H1 2024 will not see any major policy or budgetary directions to the sector till the new Government takes over in New Delhi by June 2024 and then presents its budget. For the first time, in the post pandemic era, almost all global funds, analysts and bankers have a unanimous consensus on India’s positive outlook for 2024, some even covering India as a separate chapter in their reports which was dedicated to China in their Asia Outlook till 2022. However, healthcare and life sciences sub sectors in India have its divergence to the overall India outlook for 2024. We have endeavored to bring out the deeper analysis and specifics out of the broad ‘India Positive’ Outlook for 2024 for the Healthcare and Life Sciences Sector in India.

The wave of optimism for 2024 in Indian healthcare and life sciences stems from the following:

  • The pace of digitization is now veering toward mainstream adoption of Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools and solutions across that are being piloted.
  • New business models/incubation for investments are emerging (see out Future Bets in Healthcare) that will be cross-domain
  • The bills and laws introduced in the Parliament in the Session New Healthcare Bills 2023 Archives | Kapil Khandelwal KK are yet to shape bounce in investments.
  • Muted returns in the private markets will continue in 2024 as the winter of private investments continues in 2024. Let us understand that the best investments tend to occur during times when investment outlooks appear riskier, so the lower prices in many kinds of equity investments might well yield attractive returns over time.
  • Companies listed on the bourses have always underperformed the broader index in the last 2 general elections of 2014 and 2019 by -4.5 to -6.5%. We are expecting the elections results to be neutral this time on the Indian bourses. A few big names to IPO in 2024.
  • With one-third of India’s population now constituting Gen Alpha and Gen Z, the health and wellness aspirations of this cohort is the growing aspirational class that wants to live life post Covid-19 differently and different products and services will serve as the next growth opportunity.
  • The valuations have come back to realistic levels to the pre-covid levels for primary and secondary investments.
  • Debt and equity requirements have stabilised as the cash-crunch situation during the pandemic have ‘normalised’ and so are the return expectations. Both are negatively correlated with yields globally. In other words, investments in equity and its returns will tend to outperform the market, as yields decline.
  • As new Generative AI capabilities emerge, the investments in human capital for newer skills are emerging. Also, newer models of ‘sweat’ equity/debt are emerging.
  • Investments in newer health and wellness solutions to weather climate change are getting exciting. (see out Future Bets in Healthcare).
  • M&A and buyouts are expected to continue, but lower from the peak of 2022.
  • How India plays its geopolitics will also determine the quality and quantum of foreign investments in India in the various sub sectors.

The 2024 India Healthcare and Life Sciences Investment Heat Map is as under:

Healthcare Financing

Newer products for financing healthy lifestyle for the Gen Alpha and Gen Z are emerging. Financing ‘idleness’ and healthy entertainment lifestyle through innovative business models are the key. There is a consumer shift for spending on healthy lifestyle which is a personal investment in longevity of healthy life.

  • 2024 Outlook: Moderate
  • What’s going wrong: slower market/product innovation, right bite for the consumers, reach and penetration to New Gen consumers, financing costs
  • What’s going right: India stack digitisation, uberisation, AI solutions

Medical Education

Valuations are correcting and consolidation activity is accelerating. New regulatory regime will come into force and will require investments in managing the delivery and quality of content. New skills for the new AI tools and newer consumer’s requirements needs is accelerating but not in the curriculum.

  • Outlook: Moderate
  • What’s going wrong: Alignment to new consumers and care, increasing debt burden, new age skills certification, CME with AI-tools
  • What’s going right: Skill-mix churn, upgradation of skills, AI for frontline workers

Med Tech Innovation and Life Sciences Discovery and Clinical Development

Capacity creation and new product development continues as India is now into the China+1 club. Expect a few IPOs this year in this sector. Government grant funding will temper down. Geo polities is a key risk to create supply chain disruptions.

  • 2024 Outlook: Hot
  • What’s going wrong: IP regulation, regulatory bottlenecks on clinical development, newer skill sets for research and acceleration, PLI policy for sub sector, geo politics, supply chain disruptions
  • What’s going right: Human capital, emerging social innovation models, right products selection, market appropriate solution development, peptide based products, chronic diseases product innovation for co morbidities

Pharma and Therapeutic Solutions

Geo politics may affect supply chain and missed topline and profitability estimates. Cost competitiveness like Chinese players to compete globally is the key for growth. Expect a few IPOs, buyouts and exits via secondary sale.

  • 2024 Outlook: Moderate
  • What’s going wrong: price controls, wrong product portfolio, capacity scale up, global or China-level cost competitiveness, exit of PLI incentives, shortage of skilled workforce
  • What’s going right: distribution infrastructure, digital business models, government incentive programs

Healthcare Providers

High levels of leverage is still a concern. Private equity investments slowing down due to valuation expectations. Expect a few IPOs, buyouts and exits via secondary sale. Capacity creation is slowed down due to fund crunch.

  • 2024 Outlook: Moderate
  • What’s going wrong: margin pressures, price controls, execution of programs on the ground, supply and demand mismatch in micromarkets, debt financing costs, gun powder churn, operating cash runway, liquidity and working capital crunch, not exploring newer formats
  • What’s going right: asset-lite models, medical tourism

Healthcare Insurance

Loss ratios and profitability is slowing improving as pricing and products are rationalized. Expect two IPOs of two major players. New products innovation for newer consumer’s requirements is lagging.

  • 2024 Outlook: Hot
  • What’s going wrong: product fit to consumer needs, product approvals, IPOs pricing and valuation
  • What’s going right: Consumer demand, reduced loss ratios

Health Retail

The Pharmacy Bill 2023 brings its own set of challenges. AI pilots once mainstream will reduce costs and margin pressure albeit very slowly. The valuation is still a challenge for raising fund and buy-outs, secondary exits. Expect an IPO.

  • 2024 Outlook: Hot
  • What’s going wrong: regulation, operating margins, spurious social media channels affecting consumer confidence, health UPI, time to scale
  • What’s going right: consolidation, newer cross-vertical innovative business models, profitability focus, AI adoption and models

Wellness

2021 was the highest growth year in the last 10 years on the back of discretionary consumer spending on wellness. Digital business model innovation is still lagging. Medical wellness tourism will be recover in Q3 of 2022. M&A activity and consolidation to continue in 2022 but at a slower pace. Corporate Wellness spends to continue to fuel growth in 2022

  • 2024 Outlook: Very Hot
  • What’s going wrong: regulation, maturity to scale, new mass market business models, repeat sales, spurious social media channels, fake outcome/claims
  • What’s going right: newer cross-vertical innovative business models, corporate wellness spending

Alternative Therapies

New Gen consumers are seeking unique experiences and combing with mental health and rejuvenation as their discretionary spends are increasing.      

  • 2024 Outlook: Very Hot
  • What’s going wrong: maturity to scale, consumer education and confidence, clinical research, new product development, inflated valuation, new mass market business models, repeat sales, spurious social media channels, fake outcome/claims
  • What’s going right: discretionary consumer spending, newer cross-vertical innovative business models, mainstream complementary treatment

Moving Forward

As one iconic smart investor said that one should be investing in healthcare and life sciences because you believe smart investing will yield results that are beneficial for society, not just to enrich oneself.

Happy investing and stay strong!

Also Published in Express Pharma February 2024

https://www.expresspharma.in/express-pharma-february-2024/

2023 India Healthcare and Lifesciences Investment Outlook

2023 India Healthcare and Lifesciences Investment Outlook

Since 2013 our algos have been accurately predicting the investment heatmap in the healthcare and life sciences in India which were predicting with 95% accuracy on the sectoral investment cycle in India till the end of 2019. Since the Covid Pandemic in 2020 we lowered levels of prediction accuracy like we started back in 2013. Covid-19 pandemic killed over 23 million people globally. 2022 has brought new headwinds, some we haven’t seen in over 40 years. Healthcare spending will fall in 2023 in real terms, given high inflation and slow economic growth, forcing difficult decisions on how to provide care. Digitalisation of the healthcare system will continue, but the use of health data will come under stricter regulation. A New world order under the current geo politics fragmentation and multilateral world is bringing India to the forefront. It’s vaccine diplomacy, effective and cost-effective therapeutic solutions is a game changer for India.   

2023: A Year of Newer Normal

Since the Great Chinese famine of 1959, for the first-time life expectancy as per UN, Covid-19 had been cut by 1.7 years off global life expectancy, reducing it to 71.1 years. While a recovery probably began in 2022, the UN calculates that 2023 will be the year when life expectancy first exceeds 2019 levels. The investment thesis with most of the investment managers in the current scenario is more of a long view on healthcare infra which are less tied to economic cycles and an imminent slow down globally. Some of the investment risks the healthcare and lifesciences sector faces include rising real interest rates, increasing price inflation for healthcare products and services in the face of weakening in consumer spending, reshoring the supply chains and the wars, both trade and terriotorial. Digital businesses are equally going to be impacted. ESG and impact funding is waiting for deployment.

2023 India Healthcare and Lifesciences Investment Outlook
2023 India Healthcare and Lifesciences Investment Outlook

Let’s relook at the board trends for 2023 in terms investment activity and trends.

Healthcare Financing

2021 was an all time-high for healthcare financing sector due to emergency and non-discretionary spend on healthcare. Health Tourism related funding is only going to take off in Q3 after the current wave tides down. Consolidation activity to slow down.

2023 Outlook: Moderate

  • What’s going wrong: right bite for the consumers, reach and penetration, higher debt financing costs, slower non-discretionary and elective healthcare spend, delaying of healthcare spend and health tourism, new wave restrictions, shortage of digital workforce
  • What’s going right: India stack digitisation, agetech, consumer borrowing to spend on electives

Medical Education

Skilled manpower shortages is the key driver for growth. All the students who have returned back from Ukraine need to be accommodate in our current system Regulatory reforms are urgently required to push digitization and newer business models for upskilling existing workforce. Churn in ownership of assets due to consolidation activity will continues at a faster pace.

2023 Outlook: Moderate

  • What’s going wrong: regulation, corruption, no vision, skill shortages, alignment to new age care, increasing debt burden
  • What’s going right: skill demand, digitisation, manpower-led business models creating their own content or tying up with larger established players, cross-border students coming to India, export of clinical manpower to the West     

Med Tech Innovation and Life Sciences Discovery and Clinical Development

India has proven to be the vaccine supplier to the world in 2022 with over forty percent of the world’s pre-qualified vaccine products are made in India. Capacity creation and new product development need to be accelerated particularly in infectious diseases and some niche segments. Reshoring and government policies for that need to be accelerated. Global investment and partnerships is on the rise in 2023. Patent expiry of some of the blockbusters in the US are a huge opportunity.

2023 Outlook: Moderate

  • What’s going wrong: Innovation pipeline, IP regulation, regulatory bottlenecks on clinical development, newer skill sets for research and acceleration, global collaboration and partnerships
  • What’s going right: Human capital, cost advantage, reshoring the supply chain, Make in India

Pharma and Therapeutic Solutions

Several players are going to go for the IPOs in 2023. Reshoring the supply chain is moving slowly. The Government production linked incentive is not moving as intended in the medtech, intermediates, APIs. The capital expenditure in creating world-class green infra is still to take off.

2023 Outlook: Hot

  • What’s going wrong: price controls, policy log jam, innovation and scale up, cost competitiveness, exit of PLI incentives, scale of capex, Margins pressure, IPO valuation
  • What’s going right: cost advantage, distribution infrastructure, Government incentive programs, blockbuster going off patent in the US, ESG funding entry

Healthcare Providers

2022 was a negative year for almost all the listed stocks. With higher interest rates, funding costs for have increased. Inputs such as steel, cement, etc, have also shot up increasing the capex per bed. Newer sources of funding green healthcare infra as a long-term bet which are less tied to economic cycles is emerging. Digitalisation will slow down even further as consumers go back to the old ways. Costs and profitability pressure will increase to maintain the investor interest. PE valuations will continue to get right adjusted to market valuation.  

2023 Outlook: Moderate

  • What’s going wrong: margin pressures, price controls, execution of programs on the ground, PPP in healthcare, supply and demand mismatch in micromarkets, debt financing costs, gun powder churn, operating cash runway, liquidity and working capital crunch
  • What’s going right: Asset-lite models, demographics

Healthcare Insurance

The IPOs in 2021 in the sector have created uncertainty in valuation and investor sentiment. The sector will continue to grow as it did in 2022. New products and customer segmentation is going to be the growth drivers

2023 Outlook: Hot

  • What’s going wrong: product fit to consumer needs, product approvals, loss ratios, operating cash runway, human capital reduction, consumer offtake and demand, IPOs pricing and valuation
  • What’s going right: Consumer demand, digitisation, new products

Health Retail

Spends on healthcare are slowing down and so is the discretionary spend. Falling service levels and consumer trusts is at an all-time high. Costs and margin pressures is going to be more acute. Only one major IPO expected in 2023. Many of the late stage start-up are going to scale down or not raise the capital at the expected valuations.

2023 Outlook: Moderate

  • What’s going wrong: regulation, consolidation, slower consumer spending, funding drying up, operating cash runway,
  • What’s going right: Consolidation, newer cross-vertical innovative business models, profitability focus and valuation being right adjusted

Wellness

Growth which tapered down in 2022 is still going to be sluggish in 2023 as consumers cut back their spends. Digital business model innovation is still lagging behind. Medical wellness tourism will be recover in Q3 of 2023. Corporate Wellness spends which also scale down even further. PE funding is going to slow down even further as valuations squeeze even downwards with margin pressure. Expect one major IPO here.

2023 Outlook: Hot

  • What’s going wrong: regulation, maturity to scale, down round valuations, slowing of wellness spends, manpower and cost pressures
  • What’s going right: newer cross-vertical innovative business models,

Alternative Therapies

Growth and new customer acquisition is the new mantra in 2023 as consumer spending decelerates further. New products and therapies that have accessed funding in 2021are going to find it difficult to raise at the expected valuation. Large MNCs are also entering in this space to fight for the consumer’s mindshare. Funding crunch is going affect growth. Expect an IPO. Some of the players may scale down or shut down due to funding. Consolidation activity will increase.

2023 Outlook: Hot

  • What’s going wrong: maturity to scale, consumer education and confidence, clinical research, new product development, growth, funding crunch,
  • What’s going right: discretionary consumer spending, newer cross-vertical innovative business models, mainstream complementary treatment.

Let’s wish that we focus on building trust in healthcare for the consumers in 2023 and there is peace across for the world to come out of recessionary trend that would boost the investor confidence across.

Happy investing and stay safe!

Also Listen:

 

2022: Healthcare and Life Sciences Investment Outlook

2022: Healthcare and Life Sciences Investment Outlook

Since 2013 our algos have been accurately predicting the investment heatmap in the healthcare and life sciences in India which were predicting with 95% accuracy on the sectoral investment cycle in India till the end of 2019. Since the Covid Pandemic in 2020 we lowered levels of prediction accuracy like we started back in 2013. While we worked on the Heat Map for 2022, we realized that every new wave of Covid is like a black swan event and raises the uncertainty and reduces the accuracy of the predictions with a reset. For 2021, we released two sets of heat maps, one for the healthcare and life sciences sub sectors and another for the States. Since the Central Government took the mantle of immunization, the need for updating state-wise heat map for 2022 is not relevant and not much data is being updated except for the electioneering noise and promises by political parties and immunization achieved.

2022: A Year of Consolidation and Tempering Expectations

2021 was the record year since 2013 when we started tracking the healthcare and lifesciences investments. The investments across the board was the highest, with the maximum number of IPOs and M&A activity, with over USD 2.2 Bn in funding across all the sectors in 2021. Some of the investment activity we predicted for 2022 preponed to 2021 due to positive investor and market sentiments and uncertainty of the future waves of Covid. Therefore, 2022 is a year of consolidation and tempering the tempo of investments.  

2022 Outlook
2022 India Healthcare and Life Sciences Investment Heat Map

 Let’s relook at the board trends for 2022 in terms investment activity and trends.

Healthcare Financing

2021 was an all time-high for healthcare financing sector. However, recent clamp down of Chinese funded consumer financing fintechs is going to temper down the healthcare financing sector. Health Tourism related funding is only going to take off in Q3. Consolidation activity to slow down.

  • 2022 Outlook: Hot
  • What’s going wrong: regulation clamp down, right bite for the consumers, reach and penetration, higher debt financing costs, slower non-discretionary and elective healthcare spend, delaying of healthcare spend and health tourism, new wave restrictions, shortage of digital workforce
  • What’s going right: India stack digitisation, consumer borrowing to spend on non-electives, immediate gratification, reduced household savings supplemented by borrowings

Medical Education

Key shortages of healthcare frontline workers was very apparent during 2021 Covid Crisis. The need for regulatory regime to upskills is still being reworked. Healthcare could be the key job creator. Regulatory reforms are urgently required to push digitization and newer business models for upskilling existing workforce. Churn in ownership of assets due to consolidation activity will continue albeit at a slower pace.

  • 2022 Outlook: Hot
  • What’s going wrong: regulation, corruption, no vision, skill shortages, alignment to new age care, increasing debt burden, new age skills certification, funding dry up
  • What’s going right: skill demand, digitisation   

Med Tech Innovation and Life Sciences Discovery and Clinical Development

India has proven to be the vaccine supplier to the world in 2022. Capacity creation and new product development will continue. Dependence on Chinese supply chain will reduce further as alternatives are developed indigenously. Expect a few IPOs this year in this sector. Government grant funding will temper down.

  • 2022 Outlook: Hot
  • What’s going wrong: innovation pipeline, IP regulation, regulatory bottlenecks on clinical development, newer skill sets for research and acceleration, Government grants and funding slow down
  • What’s going right: Human capital, cost advantage, emerging social innovation models, lower dependence on Chinese supply chain

Pharma and Therapeutic Solutions

M&A and consolidation activity was at a record high since 2016. Shortage of digital workers will slow down the digital transformation activity. As China substitution and supply chain threats mitigate, the Government will temper down their PLI support as well

  • 2022 Outlook: Hot
  • What’s going wrong: price controls, policy log jam, wrong product portfolio, innovation and scale up, global or China-level cost competitiveness, exit of PLI incentives, shortage of skilled digital workforce
  • What’s going right: cost advantage, distribution infrastructure, digital business models, Government incentive programs

Healthcare Providers

Funding costs will zoom up and will make access to long-term capital dearer. Huge churn in asset ownership and consolidation activity will continue. Digital transformation activity will slow down due to skill shortages

  • 2022 Outlook: Moderate
  • What’s going wrong: margin pressures, price controls, GST slabs rationalization on inputs, execution of programs on the ground, PPP in healthcare, supply and demand mismatch in micromarkets, debt financing costs, gun powder churn, operating cash runway, liquidity and working capital crunch
  • What’s going right: Digital business models augmentation, asset-lite models

Healthcare Insurance

The IPOs in 2021 in the sector have created uncertainty in valuation and investor sentiment. The sector will continue to grow as it did in 2021. Digital push and intermediation will be the key to growth.

  • 2022 Outlook: Hot
  • What’s going wrong: product fit to consumer needs, product approvals, loss ratios, operating cash runway, human capital reduction, consumer offtake and demand, IPOs pricing and valuation
  • What’s going right: Consumer demand, digitisation 

Health Retail

The major consolidation of the health retail after hectic M&A activity of 2021 will slow down the decibel levels of consumer discounts and offers to focus on generating healthy bottom lines. Only one major IPO expected in 2022.

  • 2022 Outlook: Moderate
  • What’s going wrong: regulation, consolidation, slower consumer spending, excess funding for GMV and operating cash runway
  • What’s going right: Consolidation, newer cross-vertical innovative business models, profitability focus

Wellness

2021 was the highest growth year in the last 10 years on the back of discretionary consumer spending on wellness. Digital business model innovation is still lagging behind. Medical wellness tourism will be recover in Q3 of 2022. M&A activity and consolidation to continue in 2022 but at a slower pace. Corporate Wellness spends to continue to fuel growth in 2022

  • 2022 Outlook: Very hot
  • What’s going wrong: regulation, maturity to scale, new mass market business models
  • What’s going right: newer cross-vertical innovative business models, corporate wellness spending

Alternative Therapies

Newer products and therapies that have accessed funding in 2021 will continue to fuel growth and investments. Adoption of alternative therapies into mainstream allopathic as complementary treatment is going to accelerate. Newer product development and business models is the key to sustained growth and success in 2022

  • 2022 Outlook: Hot
  • What’s going wrong: maturity to scale, consumer education and confidence, clinical research, new product development, inflated valuation,  over capitalization and cash burn to gain market share
  • What’s going right: discretionary consumer spending, newer cross-vertical innovative business models, mainstream complementary treatment.

Let’s wish that there are no further variants and waves in 2022 for any black swarm events for affecting investor sentiments.

Happy investing and stay safe!

Kapil Khandelwal is Managing Partner of Toro Finserve LLP, India’s First Healthcare Infrastructure Fund and Director EquNev Capital Pvt Ltd.

From Telegraph Road to US$50 Billion Digital Health Silk Road

Digital Silk Road

Preamble

There have been very positive developments for Indian healthcare on the digital front. First, the Indian Telemedicine Guidelines and then the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM). From various think tanks and industry bodies there have been various numbers been project on the incremental value that these will create for the Indian economy. While it is wishful to conjecture the US$ 250 billion dollar impact, what hums in my mind is the Dire Straits famous 14-minutes “Telegraph Road” song. At that time, Mark Knopfler was reading the novel The Growth Of the Soil by the Nobel Prize winning Norwegian author Knut Hamsun and he was inspired to put the two together and write a song about the beginning of the development along Telegraph Road and the changes over the ensuing decades. Using the same analogy, the development of India’s Digital Health Silk Road is feasible on the back of the physical and human healthcare infrastructure. So let’s tune in to my song!

Song Intro – India’s State of Wild-Wild West Healthcare Underdevelopment

India is a country of paradoxes for healthcare infrastructure. India has 18% of world’s population. However, it has around 18% of world’s diseases burden which is increasing. To service this diseases burden, this increasing disease burden, India has only 2.4% of world’s land mass and needs approx 0.01% of world’s land usage for health and well-being purposes. On the clinical manpower supply, India has 1% of world’s lab techs, 9% of world’s health workers, 8% of world’s nurses and doctors. To level up India to the global average, the total investment is approx $460 billion now (165 countries in the world had a GDP of less than $460 billion in 2018). (see Tedx talks My Presentations – Kapil Khandelwal (KK) To address the country’s healthcare needs within the constraints of capital, land and clinical manpower, homegrown solutions are required. At per capita healthcare spend of INR 4116 (USD 55), India’s per capital spend is growing @ 22% pa. However, India is amongst the lowest 4 countries (ranked 129) in the world on healthcare spend as per Oxfam’s latest Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index 2020 at 4% of GDP (against the globally recommended 15% of GDP).

Song Pre-Chorus – Healthcare Gold Rush to the Wild West due to Covid

Let’s set the context under which there has been an accelerated push for healthcare digitization in India. The Great Covid Lockdown. Elective healthcare were down by 70% across the board due to lockdown and priority to Covid affected. The healthcare industry started rumbling and requesting Government to come out with a bail-out package of over INR 50000 crs. Doctors needed to restart their practice through work from home or anywhere. The decade-long deadlock on the telemedicine act between Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Ministry suddenly cleared. There was a mutual agreement to develop the telemedicine road and to regulate the gold rush road to telemedicine in India.

Song Verse – New Digital Health Regulations

The actual verse of the telemedicine regulations in India was announced by the Niti Aayog and the MCI. The Prime Minister in his verse of Independence Day speech also announced the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM). The draft verse of the digital health regulation was available for the general public to review and critique. This was the back drop to the crescendo of the industry chorus on the digital health in India and the opportunity it offered.

Song Chorus – Industry Estimates and Reports

With the regulatory verse out in the public, the industry voice chorus on the real impact to the Indian economy initiated. One industry report estimated the pace of digital healthcare can unlock USD 200 to 250 billion in next 10 years in terms of primary and secondary impact to the nation’s economic value. These value-creation in the march to the wild west will be on three key roads:

  • Road 1: From episodic care to wellness-oriented care
  • Road 2: From volume-based to value-based healthcare
  • Road 3: From siloed systems to streamlined processes

While such stratospheric estimates at a Concorde-neck supersonic speed of the digital health silk road to the Wild West is great for headlines for the chorus, let’s not fool ourselves with the history of what the retail (brick and mortar) and ecommerce underwent in the past decade which went super sonic with investments and valuations on digital retail commerce in India. I have been writing about various issues and roadblocks to digital health path in my various columns which are available at My Library – Kapil Khandelwal (KK)

Song Bridge/Solo – My Estimates on the Investments and On Ground Reality and Impact

For any song chorus there is also a bridge/solo that makes the real sense. Here is my view of the chorus. The last decade received around USD 500 million in different ventures of digital health which were cut-past healthcare business models of the West. The current technology spend on these is around USD 500 million per annum. For the USD 250 billion impact on the ground to be realized a straight forward deep healthtech investments of around 5% (around USD 12.5 billion) is to be right away with a gestational lag of around 3 years on a conservative 2x on valuations return and not on revenue growth. In other words, all the sum total of early stage VC money raised in 2019 globally will have to be directed to India and that too in healthtech. A tough ask and a pipe dream.

Let’s also focus on the available data sets which is the oil to run the digital health motorway in India that we currently have. Currently, India’s data sets on healthcare is of the Telegraph road era. These include information on radiology, EMR, labs, meds, monitoring, doctor exam, nurse observations, claims data, billing and transactions. This data set is available for the Bharat Stack 1 (the elite-12% of India’s population). The real driver for the growth is the Bharat Stack 2 (the next billion of India’s population) and 30-odd points of healthcare data (not under the current NDHM regulations) which will make the digital health silk road truly a reality. An incremental investments of USD 18 billion in deep tech ventures in next generation digital health ventures to create a true high-speed digital health motorway of the future.

Therefore to land the stratospheric Concorde of the chorus that were singing, we require a total of USD 30 billion of tech investments on the word go. Where is that sort of money? We still don’t know where this money raised will be invested and that is not the point we are belabouring. Taking that cue, we have been tracking around 150 healthtech ventures in our annual healthcare and life sciences investment heatmap on digital. We will need to create 10000s of ventures that can create the depth and width of healthcare apps for the next billion today!

Song Outro – The Rhythmic Orchestration of Capacity Creation in Physical and Digital Healthcare

While most songs orchestra fade and end abruptly, this India digital health silk road would need a different Outro to its song. On a conservative basis, we estimated that the overall India digital health silk road opportunity is valued conservatively at USD 50 billion as it currently stands with the different constraints in our physical and technology healthcare delivery system. This is on the back of three key multiplier effect on the Indian healthcare economy:

  1. Increasing per capita spend on health and well being of the next 1 billion population as disposable incomes goes up moving from the informal sector to formal sector in next 10 years
  2. Incremental 1/6th disease burden our population carries as compared to world due to the genomic make up and ageing population in next 10 years through alternative healthcare delivery models
  3. Emerging alternative digital healthcare delivery models that would play on the shortages in the physical delivery system as penetration and acceptance of mobile first delivery of healthcare services become mainstream and productivity of the clinical manpower is augmented by healthtech

Money for Nothing – Covid Vaccines for Free

Another Mark Knopfler hit which talks about the excesses of a rock star and the easy life it brings compared with real work. Between the Independence Day announcement and the Bihar elections manifesto announcement, there seems to be shift in the focus and the priorities it seems from our Rock Star Prime Minister. The Government would not have the funds to spend on the Digital Health Silk Road if it spends its budget on providing free Covid Vaccines to the masses.

Only time will tell how the orchestra and the song of the great India digital health gold rush will play out!

Excerpts of this blog published as an article in VC Circle: