A picture of health: Aussie med-tech startup checks into India’s post-COVID boom

Lockdowns, quarantines, and social distancing. There’s no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic response transformed many aspects of our lives. None more so than the way we manage our health and connect with medical providers.

Without the opportunity to meet face-to-face, patients and health professionals embraced phone and video consultations in 2020. And like that, telehealth became normalised across the globe and shows no sign of slowing.

Over the next decade, global economic trends forecast higher demand for digital health solutions to address issues of quality, convenience, and sustainability. The telehealth industry alone is estimated to grow from $143 billion in 2021 to $1.5 trillion in 2028.

One Australian health-tech platform, Connect2MyDoctor, was ahead of the curve on the mission to provide virtual access to health professionals no matter the time, or place.

Launching in India in 2016, the all-in-one virtual health platform Connect2MyDoctor enables healthcare providers to unleash the power of digital health. The platform is used by patients to search and compare health professionals, book appointments, take video consultations and electronically manage prescriptions and health records.

Riding the telehealth boom, Connect2MyDoctor works with some of the leading multi and super speciality hospitals across the Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Since the start, the platform has assisted patients from over 15 countries access specialists through private and secure virtual consultations.

Headquartered in Melbourne, Australia the company has its development centre in Bengaluru and regional office for the MEA region in Dubai.

Demand, adoption and government support drive India’s digital health sector

India continues to be Connect2MyDoctor’s largest growth market. Pramod Kutty, the Co-Founder and CEO says COVID-19 has been the “biggest game-changer” for digital health globally.

‘The response to COVID drove three key elements that supercharged the adoption of digital health: A rise in consumer demand, an increase in the number of health professionals adopting telehealth and government support,’ says Pramod.

At the height of the pandemic, the Medical Council of India officially recognised telemedicine and digital health and released guidelines providing clear advice to professionals on how to deliver virtual care. According to Pramod this helped to speed up the adoption Connect2MyDoctor and other digital solutions by both providers and patients.

Coupled with the launch of the India’s National Digital Health Mission in September 2021, India is demonstrating a strong commitment to accelerating and nurturing the ecosystem for healthcare digitisation.

India can be a launch pad for Aussie digital health startups

‘With the growing population and hunger for digital health solutions, India is a land of opportunities for health-tech startups,’ says Pramod.

One of the fastest growing major economies in the world, India is characterised by a rapidly expanding middle-income population with a willingness to spend. Its large rural population and high rates of technology adoption make it an attractive destination for developing and scaling digital technologies in healthcare.

‘India is open to change. That makes it an ideal market to test, try and scale digital health solutions. However, it is important to know the market, know which care providers you want to target and build partnerships.’ Pramod explains.

In 2015, Pramod started development on Connect2MyDoctor by conducting research with over 100 doctors in India, co-creating features and functionalities that made the virtual care platform clinically relevant. Setting up an in-house development team in Bengaluru provided the agility the nimble startup needed to continuously make improvements during product development.

Austrade provides market insights and connections in India

Working with Austrade’s digital health sector experts in Australia, UAE, Kenya and India, Pramod attended in-person events and virtual exhibitions. He learnt about the market and made connections with medical clinics, hospitals, government and industry bodies that helped establish a client base in market.

‘Having the backing of Austrade in India opened doors. Austrade staff on-the-ground in India helped us generate leads and gave us a lot of credibility among potential customers,’ he said.

A major win came when Connect2MyDoctor was named by Association of Healthcare Providers India (AHPI) as the telemedicine partner of choice opening it up to its network of 20,000 hospitals.

AHPI President Dr. Alexander Thomas says Connect2MyDoctor was selected because it is a white labelled platform that provides a quality, secure and easy-to-use experience for both providers and patients.

‘A digital platform of this quality frees up time for the health care professionals to treat new patients, all non-critical follow ups, second opinions, report reviews, repeat medical prescriptions, call recording, multi-party and more tertiary and primary care, can be addressed online,’ he explains.

Early this year, the company went ahead to win the prestigious IABCA Microbusiness of Year – 2022. Established in 2014, The India Australia Business & Community Alliance (IABCA) is the largest platform that builds awareness and understanding between the peoples and institutions of Australia and India.

Australia India Business Exchange Mission opens opportunities

In September 2022, Connect2MyDoctor joined over 100 Australian businesses for an in-market visit as part of Austrade’s Australia-India Business Exchange (AIBX). A key priority was to promote Australian capabilities in digital health, intelligent health solutions and telemedicine. This saw Connect2MyDoctor representatives take part in 4 industry roundtables, and 10 business meetings where they meet with more than 50 potential customers in New Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru.

The mission provided an opportunity to meet key customers and a chance to showcase Neev Tech Labs latest developments - cARe - 3D/Augmented Reality module for patient education, OmniROM for remote rehabilitation, and HomeDoc - for home care module with Remote Patient Monitoring globally. Pramod believes these digital solutions integrated into the Connect2MyDoctor platform will assist in homecare, aged care, sports medicine customizable to various healthcare providers and their business models.

AI-ECTA to support Australian service providers in India

Pramod welcomes the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA) calling it a ‘game changer’ for service companies like his operating between the two economies.

‘Australian service suppliers in 31 sectors and subsectors, including the hospital segment, will be accorded the benefits arising out of the agreement.”

AI-ECTA, in force from 29 December 2022, will support Australia’s services companies and professionals exporting and operating in the Indian market. There will be greater certainty and predictability for our service suppliers in India.

‘Connect2MyDoctor has been ahead of the industry curve, especially post-pandemic, riding on the telehealth boom that is estimated to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2028.’

‘We are confident the trade agreement will be a big boon for us to make our Australian born digital health platform more acceptable in India as we continue to offer our innovative services with a mission to make healthcare more accessible in India, Australia and beyond,’ he explains.

Trade and investment opportunities with India

The Australia-India Business Exchange (AIBX) helps boost trade and investment between India and Australia.