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How healthtech startups are disrupting India's OPD segment

Innovations jointly brought in by the medtech and insurance tech start-ups are transforming the Out Patient Department (OPD) segment in India. The evolving consumer expectations observed over the last few years have prompted the rise in a bunch of healthcare innovations which can be witnessed in India’s gradual transformation of OPD care.

How healthtech startups are disrupting Indias OPD segment
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How healthtech startups are disrupting India's OPD segment

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Innovations jointly brought in by the medtech and insurance tech start-ups are transforming the Out Patient Department (OPD) segment in India. The evolving consumer expectations observed over the last few years have prompted the rise in a bunch of healthcare innovations which can be witnessed in India's gradual transformation of OPD care.

According to industry experts, currently, a marginal percentage of about 10-12 per cent of the population is covered by non-government health coverage. "These numbers clearly indicate the fact that OPD expenses account for 62 per cent of total healthcare costs in India. With the COVID-19 threat still looming, OPD visits and expenses are just expected to inflate further. At a time like this, digital interventions are effectively addressing the pain points of healthcare seekers and are thus enhancing the overall OPD experience across the country," Vaibhav Singh, Co-Founder, Visit Health, a doctor consult and healthcare chatbot app.

"The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the rising medical inflation have further led to the introduction of cashless Out-Patient Department (OPD) schemes. Introduced as a part of corporate health benefits and insurance, cashless OPD is rapidly permeating the health insurance landscape. In lieu of this collaboration between Health-tech and Insur-tech, the cashless OPD innovation has fuelled and is now effectively curbing medical inflation," said Singh.

Visit health has tied up with some insurers to provide cost-effective OPD benefits plans that include health check-ups, consultation, diagnostics, pharmacy and so on to their retail users. Visit Health has associated with Swiggy, Axis Bank, Times Group, Gartner, Michelin, Avery Dennison, Hindalco and Olx.

Visit health has also partnered with Corporates, Insurers and Mass Retailers of all sizes across India to manage and provide 'Flexi Wallet' OPD plans that combine cashless and reimbursement benefits. Through these strategic partnerships, the platform offers seamless online-to-offline health benefits such as In-clinic doctor consultations, diagnostics, e-pharmacy and doctor e-consultations among others.

"Digital interventions like virtual consultations, online diagnosis, medical wearables and electronic health records have enabled healthcare seekers to be wired with on-demand, anytime and anywhere OPD services. This shift from OPD as infrastructure to OPD as a service has been at the forefront of OPD transformation in India," said Singh.

Start-ups like MedPay believe that the immense value of the OPD segment can be unlocked for all stakeholders by leveraging technology-based solutions. MedPay's API-powered Connected Care Network, an organised pan-India network of OPD providers, currently has over 35,000 pharmacies, 15,000 doctors, and 1,200 labs. The pandemic has acted as a powerful catalyst, giving a much-needed push to the entire healthcare ecosystem to go digital.

Experts further hold that Indian healthcare ecosystem is yet to arrive at the tipping point of radical transformation in the outpatient industry. With technology adoption, the OPDs are also seeing a transformation. Start-ups have been trying to solve for the OPD challenges from different angles such as Practo led with discovery, 1mg with medicines, Helathplix from electronic medical records (EMR) and so on. Another start-up Meddo Health has brought solutions based and created after intensive study of real-time workflows of doctors. Meddo is building partnerships with other brands that are in the space, offering its network and services.

Dwaipayan Bhattacharjee
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