Mr. Kumara Raghavan, Head, AWS Startups India, Amazon Internet Services Private Limited and Mr. Ranjith Menon, Managing Director, Chiratae Ventures recently spoke with CXO Today to discuss the shift of the Indian healthcare system from curative to preventive health and shared insights from the report titled ‘State of Preventive Health in India’ published by consulting firm Redseer Strategy Consultants in collaboration with Chiratae Ventures and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
- AWS (Kumara Raghavan)- How do you see preventive healthcare growing in India?
According to the ‘State of Preventive Health in India’ report, by Redseer Strategy Consultants in collaboration with Chiratae Ventures and Amazon Web Services (AWS), the preventive healthcare sector is expected to grow at a CAGR of 22% during 2022-25, as compared to 15% for the curative sector.
COVID drove a significant shift in the way so many of us approach healthcare. Innovation-driven entrepreneurs and startups rose up to the challenges in the preventive healthcare space, and came up with unique solutions to help people achieve better health outcomes.
Using the cloud technologies to fuel these innovations, we work closely with many founders to realize the opportunity and provide healthtech startups the foundational expertise they need to bring their vision to life. Let me share of an example of how AWS has helped healthtech startups to support the preventive healthcare needs of the country. Redcliffe Labs, one of our customers, processes 7.5M+ tests every month across 120 cities in India, and has served 3 million patients through its infrastructure stack on Amazon Web Services (AWS), to deliver services securely and quickly. The workflow required Redcliffe Labs to use several AWS services, including Amazon ECS with AWS Fargate—a serverless, pay-as-you-go compute engine—as its primary workflow orchestrator, alongside Amazon Redshift – a data warehouse service. The integrated technology stack has helped Redcliffe’s customers in creating their unique profile on the application easily, while storing and viewing health records seamlessly, giving access to a visual timeline of their health profile. Customers are also able to live track the phlebotomist and also get real-time updates on the test reports. Thus, the most important aspects of processing, maintaining and storing of health information, are made convenient and organized for the patient.
- AWS (Kumara Raghavan)- How are healthtech startups enabling the shift from curative to preventive healthcare?
According to the aforementioned report, in the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of healthtech startups focused on preventive health. More than 50 healthtech startups have raised approximately USD $1 billion in funding cumulatively over the last three years to tap the preventive health opportunity across segments such as nutrition management, condition management, lifestyle monitoring, health checkups, and mental and physical wellness. Various startups such as Cult.fit, GOQii, HealthifyMe, Mosaic Wellness, Phablecare, Redcliffe Labs are responding to the needs of their consumers across a spectrum of preventive healthcare services.
Leveraging the cloud, startups are deploying technologies such as ML, analytics and IoT to monitor health, decrease cost of care, improve collaboration, enable data-driven decision making, and reduce innovation cycles. We see a growing acceptance of digital health among consumers, patients, and other industry stakeholders. This creates an opportunity for startups to capture and analyze vast amounts of data by leveraging cloud technologies to solve for preventive health use cases.
At AWS, we are enabling this shift by helping the startups lay strong tech-foundations by providing access to various tools and applications. With 200 products and services, we have the broadest and deepest set of capabilities of any cloud provider, ranging from basic compute and storage to advanced database and architecture options, to pre-built solutions. Furthermore, our team is dedicated to working with our startup customers to help them determine which services are best for them. There are so many examples of how we’re seeing startup innovation take a leading role to drive structural change and enable Indians to embrace a preventive approach to how they manage their health and wellness. For instance, with over 5 million users, GOQii is a tech-enabled platform that uses consumers’ health data to offer a comprehensive preventive healthcare ecosystem. They have devices to monitor and track heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, etc., a program to reward healthy behaviour, personalized health advice from health coaches, doctors, amongst other platform benefits. GOQii leverages AWS Cloud to securely help users store their health data in a Health Locker. They use Amazon Pinpoint to send personalized communications to users, and a combination of Amazon CloudFront and AWS WAF (Web Application Firewall) to deliver content in a fast and secure manner.
- AWS (Kumara Raghavan)- What is the importance of technology like cloud, data, AI and ML in this shift?
AWS provides the broadest and deepest set of regulatory compliant data lake, analytics, and AI/ML services that help startups derive meaningful insights from their data. At AWS, we work closely with startups to help them leverage the AWS AI/ML stack to build these solutions. An exciting example of this is HealthifyMe. The startups’s latest offering is HealthifyPro, which is its most advanced personalized metabolic health program. With HealthifyPro, the company is also pioneering a “virtual Continuous Glucose Monitor” to predict glucose values without having a physical device by using Amazon SageMaker to build the machine learning (ML) models for prediction. Amazon Sagemaker helps build, train, and deploy ML models for any use case with fully managed infrastructure, tools, and workflows. HealthifyPro also uses AWS services like Amazon OpenSearch, Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) & Amazon RDS to deliver superior health outcomes. We also worked with HealthifyMe during the pandemic to launch an app called VaccinateMe to provide broader access to booking vaccination appointments. Through this app Indians made over 50 million vaccination bookings.
- Chiratae Ventures (Ranjith Menon)- How has funding been for healthtech startups in the post pandemic world?
The biggest healthcare emergency of our time has only further highlighted the importance of investing in well-being at both the personal and system level. The pandemic brought a boost to digital transformation in the Indian healthcare sector, resulting in almost a 10x increase in funding in 2021 (~$2.4Bn) compared to 2020, especially in companies focused on the digital paradigm. Most of this funding, however, went into the growth stage of companies largely in the curative part of the value chain as they saw increased traction in the pandemic.
- Chiratae Ventures (Ranjith Menon) – How do you see this evolving in the coming months?
In the post-pandemic world, we are seeing an increasing focus on preventive care startups leveraging technology and the growing consumer awareness to create solutions further upstream in a consumer’s health journey. Further, we see increased investor interest in startups catering to driving patient outcomes through a more full-stack approach that points to solutions like telemedicine etc.
- Chiratae Ventures (Ranjith Menon) – What are the factors you consider before investing in a healthtech startup?
The criteria is broadly similar to how we would evaluate any early-stage startup, where the focus is on the team, business model and market size. In healthtech in particular, the balance of team in terms of bringing in some health background as well as outside and fresh perspective is always interesting. The consumer behaviour for various specialities is also very different; for eg. the urgency to act in case of cancer is generally higher compared to say, diabetics, and so picking the right approach based on the market being targeted becomes important for a startup in terms of their GTM and scaling. We also believe that technology becomes very pivotal when trying to deliver patient-first, affordable and effective care that drives patient outcomes hence, how the team is thinking and building technology around their care delivery becomes critical.