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Telemedicine Grew Drastically Amidst COVID-19: What Holds For Future?
As the world continues to combat the biggest health crisis that we have ever seen before, the healthcare sector has become the major focus of all governments. Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, several tech trends have been making rounds, including remote working, online education, and virtual gatherings. One such trend that is booming now is telemedicine.
Virtual consultation has become the preferred channel among those seeking quality healthcare during the lockdown and restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the virus. To support this trend, the Indian government released the Telemedicine Practice Guidelines in March 2020. This guideline brought clarity in the sector of digital healthcare and telemedicine. Eventually, many telemedicine platforms mushroomed and some are leading the way.
Undoubtedly, the sector existed even before the pandemic but this health crisis gave it the required push as remote health consultations worked well during the complete lockdown across the country. It reduced the contagion risks drastically and provided instant access to quality healthcare at the benefit of reduced time, effort, and cost as in-person consultations.
Growth Of Telemedicine
The reason for the growth of this segment is the increased digitization that brought in challenges related to data privacy and prescription substitution. There was an instant necessity for a strong regulatory framework in the interest of consumers and patients. With this growth, it is estimated that the telemedicine market in India might grow at a compound annual growth rate of 31% between 2020 to 2025.
As per the reports that are making the rounds on the internet, the virtual healthcare industry comprises teleconsultation, teleradiology, telepathology, and e-pharmacy. These segments are encouraging stimulus in India amidst the pandemic. This stimulus has the potential to make e-pharmacy and teleconsultation account for around 95% of the telemedicine market amounting to $5.2 billion by 2025.
In India, the e-pharmacy market is projected to grow 10% to 12% in terms of overall pharmaceutical sales in the coming years. It is said to be driven by strong regulations, the creation of digital infrastructure, and increased funding.
Telemedicine Brands In India
To detail on the brands that are available in the telemedicine sector in India now, there are brands such as Bangalore-based Practo, which witnessed up to 4x growth during the pandemic in terms of the number of patients and Delhi-based myUpachaar, which saw 3x growth in consultations amidst the pandemic. The other brands in the telemedicine sector right now include 1mg, Lybrate, Docprime, and Mfine.
Future Of Telemedicine Post-COVID
While the telemedicine sector all over the world is in the limelight amidst the pandemic crisis, the future of this sector seems prosperous for now. Moreover, with the new guidelines by the government in place, there is adequate policy clarity and the sector is gearing up for optimal growth. The government is likely to monitor the privacy, security, and quality standards of the solutions provided by startups in the sectors of telemedicine and online pharmacy.
It is projected to grow as the telemedicine sector witnessed substantial growth in tier 2 and tier 3 cities and remote areas in the country. The major challenge in the sector is that consumers from far-flung places aren't too tech-savvy. With the increased consumer awareness sans delay for remote healthcare will help this sector grow further post the pandemic.