bioConclave 2019 : AI is disrupting healthcare and medtech in India

bioConclave India 2019 medtech healthtech healthcare

BANGALORE, 15 October: The inaugural bioConclave event in India saw more than 150 delegates from the top hospitals, medtech, medical associations and government gather in Bangalore to discuss how Indian healthcare can leapfrog in quality, access and affordability, with the use of new technologies and greater collaborations. The event was supported by Hamburg Invest, the German region’s one-stop shop for inward investment and business development. A joint healthcare and life sciences delegation to London and Hamburg, in close collaboration with Hamburg Invest, was announced for February 2020.

Dr Naresh Shetty, President of Ramaiah Memorial Hospital, gave the opening keynote address. He said that only 1.02% of GDP was being spent on healthcare, but that changing lifestyles and an increasing urban population will continue to put pressure on the healthcare industry. He said that the industry was projected to grow at 15% annually in the coming years, in order to meet the government’s target of 2.5% of GDP of healthcare spending.

Dr Urvashi Prasad from NITI Aayog and Dr Ashish Jain, CEO of the Healthcare Sector Skills Council, outlined the government’s vision for reaching this target. Dr Prasad discussed the IQVIA 2017 Survey which showed both rural and urban residents preferred using private healthcare rather than public because of a perception of better quality, faster access and the ability to meet specialists. But 70% of India’s population is rural, while 70% of its healthcare providers are urban.

Dr Jain articulated the government’s vision in addressing skill shortages, but other sessions on the day felt that, given the scale of the challenge and growth in India, such efforts were struggling to keep up with demand.

On the use of new and innovative medtech is where the conference focused on most, with case studies from a number of senior hospital leaders, including from Association of Healthcare Providers, Cloudnine, Ovum Hospitals, Columbia Asia Hospital and Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospital.

A panel on quality, access and affordability in healthcare, featured leaders from several of these hospitals, specifically praised mohalla clinics in Delhi, saying that a focus on patient outcomes and political will is what is needed to dramatically improve public sector healthcare provision.

“Most hospitals have 60 per cent occupancy, because a very small percentage of the population has access to healthcare. Healthcare needs to be scalable. Massive scale happens through AI, ML, cloud computing and data intelligence,” said Vivek Rajagopal, Head of Advanced Analytics and AI at Narayana Health. “In the last three or four years, the volume for robotic-assisted surgeries has doubled,” said Dr Santanu Chattopadhyay, Head, Provider & Hospital Businesses at 1mg Technologies, saying that robots will increasingly assist tasks in operation theatres.

The event saw a number of Innovation Showcase pitches from startups disrupting the healthcare and life sciences spaces, including StanPlus, which offers end-to-end ambulance and emergency services to hospitals, and Leucine Bio, India’s first and only microbiome-focussed, genomics-based company.

Lee Lee Ong, Project Director from Hamburg Invest, presented the opportunities available for Indian healthcare innovators in Hamburg and Germany more widely. Hamburg’s health and life sciences clusters together employ more people than any other sector in the city region, and the city is a huge hug for Chinese and US investment. Increasing numbers of Indian companies are taking note of the opportunities there, and to encourage this, a delegation to Hamburg and London in February 2020 was announced.

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