The Covid-19 pandemic hit hard on the global economy. We endured lockdowns, social isolation, masks, unemployment, and an economic catastrophe. The Healthcare sector was packed with surging cases of pandemic and shortage of supplies. Currently, India is going through a terrible lack of oxygen supply and healthcare providers are trying their best to keep the situation under control.
Technology witnessed a boom during the pandemic since everything went digital and consumers demanded services at their fingertips due to pandemic-induced restrictions. The rapid acceleration and adoption of disruptive technologies benefited the healthcare sector the most. Technologies like AI, machine learning, and IoT are being widely used now in telehealth, customized patient monitoring, electronic health records, vaccine development, on-demand treatment, and diagnostics.
Telehealth became widely accepted as the best way to avail treatment and diagnosis from the comfort of homes. Research shows that coming years will also embrace telehealth services and that it has become the new normal. A report from CB insights suggests that it is true since investments in Telehealth skyrocketed in the first quarter of 2021.
According to the report, the global investment in Telehealth hit USD4.2 billion with 139 deals in Q1 2021 compared to just USD 2.2 billion in the same quarter a year ago. Further, the report says that the first quarter also witnessed active industry executive discussions revolving around Telehealth and discussed their role in care. A Markets and Markets research states that the global telehealth and telemedicine market is expected to reach USD 191.7 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 37.7% during the forecast period from 2020 to 2025. The need to expand healthcare, the arrival of the pandemic, and demand for better accessibility, technology boom, are some of the key factors driving investments and growth in Telehealth. The CB Insights report reveals that the global healthcare funding also skyrocketed in the first quarter of this year, reaching USD 31.6 billion in equity funding, and the deal count grew by 9%. Equity funding to digital healthcare companies also reached an all-time high of USD9 billion, says the report.
Technology adoption in the wake of Covid-19 helped the virtual care sector to grow and spread its wings. A report by NITI Aayog revealed that by early December 2020, more than 1 million teleconsultations had taken place through e-Sanjeevani across 550 districts in India, and the market for telemedicine in India is projected to reach USD 5.5 billion by 2025.
Hinge Health, a digital healthcare platform that tackles back and joint pains through virtual sessions, connected wearables, and diagnosis recently received funding of USD 300 million in a Series D round. Another patient-driven telehealth company Ro secured USD 500 million in a Series D round. Ro integrates nationwide telemedicine, in-home care network, and medicine distribution network through its digital platform. It also provides remote-patient monitoring services with connected devices.
Time and expense are the two key factors that would draw patients into telehealth services. Telehealth is considered better than in-person visits since it does not need you to stay in a long queue to meet the specialist, and one can avail of it from the comfort of their home with less expense. Telehealth is a better option for healthcare providers since it is cost-effective, safer considering the spread of infections, faster, and easier. According to a report by Fierce Healthcare, Healthcare AI companies hit a record by reaching USD 2.5 billion in the first quarter with 111 deals. This can be elaborated by the massive funding of USD 400 million received by Insitro, a machine learning-driven drug development platform.
Telehealth can efficiently collect patient data and provide personalized service. It enables healthcare systems to accommodate more patient demands and provides increased access to vulnerable groups of people. Telehealth is not something that is looked at with suspicion although there might be confusion about data storage and security. If the vulnerabilities are addressed with caution, Telehealth would become the most sought-after option for availing medical services, since it also increases the coverage by the inclusion of mental health, behavioral health services, more.