Life Sciences 4.0: Digital opportunities in the Indian healthcare sector

11 March 2019 3 min. read

As technology advances, the healthcare sector in India is transforming itself on a daily basis, characterised by data mining, clinical diagnoses, and self-monitoring devices to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. In a new report, EY has termed this comprehensive transformation Life Sciences 4.0. 

Perhaps every sector of India’s economy has been affected significantly by Industry 4.0 technologies, which include artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and automation. Sectors that interact more directly with the digital sphere have been transformed extensively, although the effects are rapidly spreading elsewhere.

Big Four accounting and advisory firm EY argues that the healthcare sector is among those that are most dramatically being hit by the advent of advanced technology. The integration of technology into the healthcare sector is perhaps one of the most essential developments in the Indian context.

New opportunities from tech advancement

Given its large population and the limited resources at its disposal, the Indian healthcare system currently struggles to remain on top of the healthcare needs in the country. Hospitals are overcrowded and patients often have to wait long durations before receiving treatment.

According to EY, technology is making tremendous strides towards easing these burdens. As a result, firms in India operating in the domain of life sciences now have a plethora of business opportunities at their disposal, which can contribute to overall growth in the sector.

“Technology is disrupting the health care ecosystem in India in many ways. New medical devices and point of care diagnostic solutions are significantly improving affordability and accessibility challenges. Teleconsulting, remote monitoring systems and point of care diagnostics will help to deliver quality health care to even remote parts of India,” says the report.

Life Sciences 4.0

Augmented reality, for instance, is a tool that is increasingly being employed to help skill young medical professionals, while robotics are being used for a growing number of surgical procedures and artificial intelligence is being used to make the extensive medical documentation process more. 

Other innovative implementations of Industry 4.0 technology include automated delivery of medication and treatment through unmanned vehicles, augmented reality such as smart eyewear for surgeons and the use of Internet of Things technology to develop home diagnostic technology.

Businesses operating in the healthcare sector have ben capitalising on this growth story. This is exemplified by the fact that life sciences firms signed as many as 86 digital deals in 2018 up until November, and 100 through 2017, which represents a substantial increase from 23 deals in 2014.

digital deals by top biopharma companies

Another key trend is the sudden boom in the value of these deals since 2017, when a number of stakeholders in the sector realised the value of technology in their operations. Common technologies in these deals include cloud infrastructure, advanced analytics and sensors.

Nevertheless, the report from EY warns that the sector must maintain its current mindset of growth, experimenting with innovative approaches, primarily to remain competitive in the international environment. The conventional medicine sector is also facing competition from a resurgent ayurvedic segment.