India’s digital health landscape sees a silver lining during the Covid-19 pandemic


During the pandemic, we have seen significant adoption of digital health in India: 2,000 rural towns accessed teleconsultation, with 80% new users and a 200% increase in online pharmacy orders. Going forward, the “Digital Health ECG” predicts a positive prognosis: 60% of patients in Tier 1 cities and 65% of doctors said they would continue to use digital platforms for primary care in a post- covid, according to a BCG FICCI report. The future looks bright, but presents challenges and opportunities to be met, which largely rely on gaining insights from patient analytics.

Measuring the pulse: patient360 analytical power

Rohit, a Tier 2 patient from a rural town, began teleconsultation to treat his chronic lung condition. Today, it offers multiple data sources in an increasingly phygital world. Rohit adds genomic, profile and environmental data, food and grocery spending information, and medical history to its suite of digital apps. As her condition progresses, her care team helps add biomarker data (step count, lung capacity, etc.) and a crystallized view of her insurance plan, while expense information health care and the emerging income bracket. With long-term care, Rohit’s in-app behavior, responsiveness to digital marketing nudges, and larger online consumer footprint contribute to a comprehensive Patient360 view, enabling closed care tracking beyond of consulting. His care team remotely develops a personalized care plan and schedules visits, while Rohit tracks his progress through simple readings. Going forward, these analytics will be bolstered by wearable IoT technologies, including smart gloves and haptic devices, fostering a broader trend towards the “bionic human”.

Moonshots—What does the future look like?

Powered by this Patient360 data, future trends towards hyper-personalization. First, robust analytics will accelerate Digital Twin technology for humans, which promises to deliver individualized care. By virtually modeling Rohit’s internal systems to create its digital replica, healthcare providers can create predictive pathways to discovery and improved treatment. Insurers can anticipate risk and optimize their insurance plan by analyzing similar profiles, while their care provider could detect a predisposition to disease and optimize long-term care to try to prevent conditions through advice on diet, meditation and exercise.

Second, from matching patients to clinical trials and analyzing images in screening programs to computer vision-assisted diagnostics and passive surveillance, advances in machine learning have shown that systems of will transform the value chain. According to research from Clinical Trials Arena, biotech companies have demonstrated the ability of AI to change drug discovery, with several AI-designed molecules reaching human clinical trials in less than 12 months compared to the cycle of typical discovery of 4.5 years. The key to unlocking the full effects of AI will be widespread adoption of 5G: GSMA intelligence projects that 5G connections in India “will reach 6% of the total population by 2025 (72 million) and 93 % by 2040”. While the GSMA predicts this will contribute $4 trillion in GDP to the entire healthcare sector between 2025 and 2040, it will also enable streaming of large amounts of data and unlocking analytics in time. of individual patients to improve diagnoses and cost savings.

Finally, as with consumer goods, hyperlocal capabilities will increase the ease and frequency of use. The increase in home care and medical execution, which is expected to increase by 21.9% in compound annual growth rate (CAGR) by 2026 according to MordorIntelligence analysis, will drive radial utilization and retention.


Stabilizing ECG businesses requires accelerating nascent intelligence capabilities around health data. As the affordability, accessibility, and sophistication of IoT devices increase, enterprises are inundated with rich edge data, but only beginning to deliver solid analytical insights. For example, Rohit logs a wealth of data continuously from its pulse oximeter and blood pressure monitor into Apple Health and GoogleFit, but companies have yet to fully leverage its data to enable practitioners to establish predictive diagnostics. In the service of this, we will observe the consolidation towards a connected ecosystem through the four major emerging players in India: knowledge dissemination, consultation, e-pharmacies and digital therapeutics. Companies can expect business through a partnership or acquisition that realizes a single solution offering multiple services. Powered by detailed patient analytics, the lines between payer and provider will blur as the ecosystem merges to focus on long-term care and continued patient retention.

Rajiv Gupta is the Managing Director and Senior Partner of BCG. (With contributions from Sripradish Kapikad, platinion associate director, and Surya Giri, platinion senior engineer, BCG)

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