30 Nov 2012, BioSpectrum Bureau , BioSpectrum
Bioscience companies across Asia are witnessing a silent shift in the way they operate and promote innovation. These companies, now, are actively working at a cross section of various scientific disciplines, most notably in integrating information technology in their products and solutions for diagnosis and treatment.
BioSpectrum conducted a Smart Healthcare Survey in October 2012 to document this shift and create a mechanism to measure the impact of this trend and that how deeply it has penetrated the industry and its segments.
Key findings of the survey
1. Healthcare technology providers make up more than 50 percent of this new segment - Smart Healthcare, which is on its way to establish itself as a market segment.
2. Smarter diagnostic kits make up almost 80 percent of this segment. However, since the players operate across sub segments, such as patient devices and imaging equipment, and have realized the value add of integrating information technology in their products, these sub segments are speedily catching up with diagnostics.
3. While technology innovation remains key No. 1 parameter that qualifies a product or a service as Smart Healthcare, affordability comes a close second. The pursuit of better alternatives with respect to these two parameters is the reason that led to emergence of Smart Healthcare as the market segment.
4. Demographics across countries, leaning heavily towards an aging society, emerged as the key driver for these Smart Healthcare products and services. Rise in lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, follows the close second as companies have taken on the challenge to ensure high quality life for these patients.
5. The sub segment that will grow fastest in the next few years is genetic diagnostics and point of care diagnostics followed by telemedicine and mobile health.
6. Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, and South Korea emerged as the top countries as far as government spending on Smart Healthcare goes.
There are numerous challenges that the industry will be encountering in its pursuit of Smart Healthcare. Thirty three percent of the respondents have highlighted regulatory environment as their top challenge.
Mr Mike Thomas, CEO, iSonea, states, "for a medical equipment company involved with smart healthcare strict regulatory conditions adding to time-to-market is something that is of concern." The governments need to create clear policy framework for devices. Regulations need to be in place to ensure patient safety. There is some work required there.
Mr D Mishra, CEO, i2India, concurs that a lot of difficulty is involved in working with the public health systems. Moreover, he also feels that there is a "weak patent regulation system in this segment that helps small companies reverse engineer innovative products", taking away the innovator's advantage.
Another major challenge outlined by smart healthcare providers is lack of customer awareness. Companies inform that people still rely on traditional means of delivering healthcare and show resistance in adopting the newer techniques that are available now. However, this has been the norm since ages.
Dr Saleem, founder and CEO, XCode Life Sciences, says, "Change always faces resistance. A new technology brings about change in some if not all processes. Due to this, there is usually resistance in acceptance. However, good news is that eventually people do accept the change." Still, initiatives that improve awareness will bring speed to doption.
The trend of delivering healthcare through telemedicine is on the rise. However, poor infrastructure is a major limiting factor that is keeping companies as well patients from reaping benefits. Lack of internet penetration, stable power supply, and trained personnel all add up to hindrances in delivering healthcare solutions to those living in the rural areas of the countries in Asia.
This scenario is gradually changing with cloud-based and mobile-based solutions helping the solution providers expand their reach in the remote areas as well. The initiatives are in place but still there is a long way to go.