India's telemedicine market to reach $5.5 billion by 2025

19 November 2020 4 min. read

EY and the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) have presented a new report on telemedicine in India, forecasting the segment to grow to nearly $5.5 billion over the next half a decade. 

The report is set against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, and how it has rocked the foundations of healthcare across the world. Only the most advanced of healthcare systems were equipped to deal with the sheer volume of patients and infection risk that came with Covid-19, and even they struggled for a few weeks in the immediate aftermath.

India is far from an advanced healthcare system. In fact, there are currently only seven beds for every 100 patients in the country, and a single nurse for every 1,000. Lack of adequate precautions in Indian hospitals also means a high risk of hospital-acquired diseases. The Covid-19 onslaught has left this system in shambles.Virtual healthcare could support a burdened healthcare industryAt the same time, researchers report that necessity has driven many to digital avenues for their healthcare needs. What results is a rapidly ballooning telemedicine market. No doubt, the potential of technology to transform healthcare in India has been plain to see for years. Indeed, EY published a report in March last year highlighting the digital opportunities that lie in Life Sciences 4.0.

In light of the present crisis, a concept that was still some way in the future has become a very imminent reality. EY partner and National Life Sciences Leader Sriram Srinivasan explained just how healthcare has progressed under conditions this year.

“Most patients have refrained from getting in-person doctor consultations for acute ailments due to the lockdown and risk of infection. They mostly relied on self-medication / self-diagnostic apps. Some even took medical consultations with general practitioners or family doctors on calls / virtual tools during the first few months of the pandemic.”

Willingness to book tele health visits by age group

That being said, this was only a short-term solution, and has proved unsustainable as the pandemic has dragged on for months. High-risk patients with chronic conditions need regular care, forcing patients of all ages to pick up digital alternatives for disease management and control. According to Srinivasan, the healthcare ecosystem has responded strongly. 

“Healthcare providers, such as hospitals and e-pharmacies, have integrated teleconsultation platforms and scaled-up their existing digital offerings. Teleconsultation and e-pharmacy platforms have showed a steep growth in adoption by both, doctors as well as patients.” 

The result is a boom in the telemedicine market. Already in April, a RedSeer Consulting report revealed that digital healthcare in India would likely scale years of predicted growth in 2020 alone, with a boom expected in the next half a decade. EY calculates that telemedicine will cross the $1 billion mark this year, and will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 30% over the next five years.

Telemedicine market is expected to reach $5.5 billion in India

By 2025, the segment will be worth nearly $5.5 billion. In a nutshell, the habits formed during the pandemic – in this case telemedicine – are likely to persist if not intensify in the years to come, especially since Indian consumers are on the lookout for a blend of convenience and cost-effectiveness.

Feeding off this demand boom, members of the healthcare ecosystem will continue to up their focus on telemedicine. In August, the government of India launched the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) with the sole aim of setting up a digitalised, standardised healthcare system that would boost capacity, remove efficiencies, and facilitate healthcare innovation – particularly in HealthTech.

More than $500 million in funding has already flown into India’s telemedicine market between 2014 and 2019, to platforms such as Practo, Medlife and PharmEasy, among several others. Spurred on by the NDHM, and more broadly by shifting consumer habits, these investments are likely to skyrocket in the next half a decade or so.