Startups intend to create a new paradigm for healthcare in India at TiEcon conclave

Amit Mookim, Managing Director, South Asia, QuintilesIMS, Sudarshan Jain, MD, Abbott Healthcare; Amit Bakshi, Founder and MD, Eris Life Sciences; Manish Gupta, Co-founder and CEO, Indegene; Vishal Gondal, Founder, CEO and CFO, GOQii; Rashid Khan, Director, Rxmedikart Technology; Saurabh Arora, CEO, Lybrate Amit Mookim, Managing Director, South Asia, QuintilesIMS, Sudarshan Jain, MD, Abbott Healthcare; Amit Bakshi, Founder and MD, Eris Life Sciences; Manish Gupta, Co-founder and CEO, Indegene; Vishal Gondal, Founder, CEO and CFO, GOQii; Rashid Khan, Director, Rxmedikart Technology; Saurabh Arora, CEO, Lybrate

The conclave had workshops, panel discussions, fireside chats, knowledge sharing sessions and exhibition

From precision medicine to virtual care delivery platform, data analyticals to interoperability, diagnostic kits to medical devices to various innovative services, start-ups in healthcare are changing the way healthcare is perceived as well as delivered. This was quite evident during TiEcon’s two-day startup conclave organised by The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Mumbai Chapter. The conclave had interesting workshops, panel discussions, fireside chats, knowledge sharing sessions and exhibition.

The theme of the event was ‘2022 – India Ahead’ which attracted more than 1,000 delegates and representatives from across industries over two-days. The first day focussed on banking, financial and other retail sectors. The second of TiEcon focussed on start-ups from the lifesciences sector. The sessions were conceptualised and curated by QuintilesIMS team. Around 50 healthcare and pharma startups and more than 125 representatives from the lifesciences space congregated on the second day.

The day began with, Amit Mookim, Managing Director, South Asia, QuintilesIMS, addressing the audience on the opportunities for healthcare start-ups in India. Since Mookim is involved in mentoring new-age healthcare entrepreneurs and also helps them get access to other mentors, industry players and funding institutions, he began his address by saying digitalisation is future of healthcare. Expounding on the current scenario he said, “There are three pillars on which convergence in the healthcare space is taking place. First pillar is patients; today they have access to huge amount of information especially through Internet. Therefore, they are increasingly taking decisions on their own. This has a huge implication on how they are engaging with doctors, healthcare providers and peers. The second pillar is the doctors. Two-third of the doctors today are on Internet and are using social media. The third piece is that the blocks are being put in place to build the supply chain despite the fact that India is a hugely fragmented country. The traditional way of doctor-patient engagement and healthcare delivery has been gradually making a shift towards a more focussed and personalised approach with the help of technology.”

“The healthcare startups can tap into this prospect by connecting all three pillars and cater to widespread demographic, both in terms of doctors and patients. Healthcare SIG is our effort to provide an open forum to entrepreneurs wherein they can have access to share ideas with not only VCs, but also with established players and peers. Our aim was to create largest congregation of healthcare startups that focusses on ideas, innovation and work, not limiting to the size of the startup,” he added.

Thereafter, in a very interesting panel discussion on Life Sciences – The road to digital, analytics and interaction with broader healthcare ecosystem, panelists Sudarshan Jain, MD, Abbott Healthcare; Amit Bakshi, Founder and MD, Eris Life Sciences; Manish Gupta, Co-founder and CEO, Indegene, Rashid Khan, Director, Rxmedikart Technology; Saurabh Arora, CEO, Lybrate; Saurabh Arora, CEO, Lybrate, Vishal Gondal, Founder, CEO and CFO, GOQii along with moderator, Amit Mookim brought out keys aspects of the healthcare system in India and also deliberated on ways and means to utilise digital technologies to address challenges.

The discussion began with emphasis on the pre-requisites of building a strong healthcare ecosystem. Jain highlighted the importance of the newly launched National Health Policy by the government. He said, “The National Healthcare Policy framed by the government is a major step towards attaining an inclusive healthcare system. However, there lies a huge gap in what needs to be done and what is being done. There is a need for strategic buying of healthcare services and the physical reach of medical infrastructure needs to be ensured. Availability of technically skilled manpower is another issue that needs close attention. While all this is important, the most critical element is to have affordable healthcare across all strata.”

Gondal, spoke on the need to shift focus from a curative healthcare system to a preventive one. “It is rather important to put technology to work to bring in lifestyle changes. The gap between the medical manpower that is available and that what is needed today is huge. With the amount of data that is available and which can be stored with the help of technology, a lot more efficiencies can be achieved,” he exclaimed. He also spoke on the need to build trust among all stakeholders in order to build a cohesive healthcare system.

Bakshi gave an interesting perspective on the relevance of scalability of health services in India. “Everybody within the healthcare start-up ecosystem is trying to solve a problem, which is good. But until we start writing a digital prescription, scalability of healthcare services is going to remain a problem. Scalability of healthcare services is a huge opportunity. Patient education is much more than just reminding someone to take a pill on time,” he argued.

Adding to Bakshi’s concerns, Khan pointed out that statistically 67 per cent of people going to a chemist never get counselling on how to take the medicine properly. Emphasising on the importance of patient education, he said, “An informed patient leads to an informed decision.”

Arora chipped in saying, “Building trust among patients is very important. Right information at the right time is the need of the hour.”

“There are multiple probes in healthcare. Compliance has evolved and players are getting more serious now”, opined Gupta. He further emphasised on the regulatory factors being the drivers for change in the future. “Regulations are the biggest drivers of the healthcare sector. They have helped the industry change and evolve for the better”, he said.

The next panel discussion titled ‘Digital Healthcare– Predictive analytics, enhanced patient experience and better healthcare delivery ‘ furthered the deliberation on how start-ups can pave a way for the future.

Panelist Subhashish Sircar, Founder and CEO, Health Vectors; Vamsi Chandra, CEO, ENLIGHTIKS; Mudit Vijayvergiya, Co-founder, Curofy; Pradeep K Jaisingh, Chairman, HealthStart and Atin Sharma, Partner, RoundGlass exchanged insights on building sustainable healthcare businesses in India.

Jaisingh said, “India needs to look at the cultural aspects of the entrepreneurship in healthcare. A collaborative model is needed and can be sustainable in the future. We need to look at the challenges in healthcare as opportunities.”

Chandra spoke on the good, bad and ugly side of the startup culture in healthcare. “Healthcare is currently going through a renaissance  in the last 8-10 years. It is an industry which is going to stay. However, the approach taken by most start-ups in this space is incorrect. You will find that very few unique companies that have a different business model. Most of the startups are photocopies of the others. This could be detrimental for any business environment’, he stated.

He further spoke on how startups should pick a problem and solve it differently than its competitors. Chandra also highlight three aspects of success for startups- either a company has phenomenal technology for healthcare or pharma, or a company is building a revolutionary business process for the sector or the company is making profits via its unique business model.

Vijayvergiya spoke about his business model and explained how entrepreneurs need to keep their focus on larger business goal.

Sircar emphasised on the need to build businesses around technologies that complements healthcare providers.” We all talk about the importance of sustainability in business but that require us to be flexible to change.”

Sharma gave an overview of the funding scenario for startups in healthcare and shared this vision for healthcare as a venture capitalist.

The session was followed by an intriguing presentation on important questions that startups should ask themselves before they visit venture capitalist by Praful Akali, Founder and MD, Medulla Communications. Akali in this session raised pertinent questions on scalability, sustainability and reliability of a various business models. The day ended with networking sessions among startups, funders and healthcare providers present at the event.