Sedentary lifestyles to smart healthcare: India’s path forward

With advancements in technology and a decline in physical activity, India is experiencing a substantial rise in chronic diseases. Cardiac arrests, diabetes, and high blood pressure are increasingly prevalent among the young population. This trend has spurred the development of innovative gadgets and solutions aimed at mitigating the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

India’s growing health challenges also present significant business opportunities. Beyond gadgets, there is potential in medical tourism, healthcare equipment, and other sectors. Investing in these areas can help address the nation’s health issues while offering profitable ventures for entrepreneurs.

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India, the second most populous country in the world with over 1.3 billion people, faces significant health challenges. Despite advanced medical facilities, the nation faces a growing prevalence of chronic diseases and a significant number of undernourished individuals. This issue persists even among Indians from higher socio-economic classes.

Increased consumption of alcohol, smoking, and fast food are major contributors to rising health issues among young Indians. Another silent killer is physical inactivity. As experts say, “sitting is the new smoking,” highlighting a modern concern that can prove lethal in the long run.

Moreover, the introduction of modern gadgets, initially designed to simplify and expedite our daily errands, has inadvertently ushered in a noticeable decrease in physical activity. This sedentary lifestyle has stealthily crept into our lives, often unnoticed, while the gadgets meant to streamline our tasks ironically contribute to our decreased physical movement. This shift is driven by several factors:

  • The rise of desk jobs and long hours spent on laptops and desktops.
  • Increased engagement on social media via smartphones.
  • Extended commuting hours to work.
  • The growing culture of home delivery, which has drastically reduced the need to visit stores physically.

Prolonged sitting, insufficient exercise, and mindless eating have contributed to a rise in chronic conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and psychological issues. Additionally, these habits are linked to other health risks, including obesity, loss of muscle and bone strength, poor blood circulation, and hormonal imbalances.

Dr. Mayanka Lodha Seth, Chief Pathologist Redcliffe Labs says “Data and research reveal that approximately 35% of coronary heart diseases are due to physical inactivity. Long hours of sitting or inactivity lead to fat build-up or clogging of the arteries or blood vessels responsible for carrying blood and oxygen to the heart, which can further result in a heart attack.

To avoid this, it is crucial for you to take charge of your health and know your numbers. Regular health check-ups, including weight, blood count, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, lipid levels, and all vital parameters, are essential.”

Dr. Mayanka advocates for the 80-20 rule to maintain good health. This means eating clean 80% of the time, allowing for 20% indulgence without adverse effects. Similarly, if your job or lifestyle involves prolonged sitting for 80% of the day, engaging in moderate physical activity during the remaining 20% can help you stay healthy.

With the rise in busy routines, it is hard to have frequent health checkups for possible issues. To combat the effects of physical inactivity and rising health concerns, several startups have introduced innovative gadgets and applications such as:

  • Fitness Trackers: These trackers provide real-time data on steps taken, calories burned, and distance traveled. Some even offer personalized workout suggestions tailored to your fitness level and goals.
  • Digital Nutrition Trackers: These apps and devices let you log meals, track calorie intake, and monitor nutritional content, guiding you towards healthier food choices.
  • Virtual Personal Trainers: With the advent of virtual reality (VR) technology, personal training has transformed into a digital experience. VR fitness apps and devices provide immersive workouts, featuring virtual trainers and interactive sessions customized to your preferences.
  • Posture Correctors: Poor posture is a common issue that can cause various health problems. These wearable devices gently remind you to maintain good posture throughout the day, helping to reduce strain on your neck and back.
  • Portable ECG Monitors: Heart health monitoring is no longer limited to hospitals and clinics. Portable ECG monitors enable you to check your heart rhythm anytime, anywhere, offering early detection of potential issues and peace of mind.

Business Opportunities

The healthcare sector holds a tremendous business opportunity due to the aftereffect of the global pandemic and rising public awareness about varied health issues. The global smart healthcare market was valued at US$ 144.9 billion in 2022 and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 11.3% from 2023 to 2030, according to Grand View Research.

The business possibilities are vast, ranging from medical tourism and health tech startups to healthcare consulting. Investing in healthcare business ideas in India can be highly profitable and significantly contribute to the overall enhancement of the country’s healthcare system. Some of the trending business opportunities in the sector include:

  • Medical Tourism: India ranks 7th among the 20 markets due to its low-cost treatments and over 560 lakh trips to India annually are for medical tourism generating US$ 16.3 billion. Medical tourism attracts patients from a wide range of countries like Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia etc. A business that caters to medical tourists such as medical tourism agency or a health and wellness retreat could be a beneficial option.
  • Medical Equipment and supplies: Manufacturing and distributing high-quality, specialized equipment and devices to hospitals, clinics etc. Some of the high demand equipment include – Diagnostic equipment, surgical equipment, Hospital furniture, consumables and disposables.
  • Telemedicine: In India, telemedicine is a promising healthcare business, especially in remote areas with limited access to medical facilities. These businesses offer virtual consultations, diagnoses, and treatments, allowing patients to connect with healthcare providers from home. Telemedicine improves healthcare access for underserved populations and represents a valuable business opportunity.
  • VR and Metaverse apps for mental health: Mental health is gaining global attention, making the development of a mental health app using metaverse and VR a profitable business idea for entrepreneurs. For example, a VR and metaverse app Innerworld allows users to access peer-led mental health support as anonymous avatars.

Despite the health challenges India faces, there is a silver lining in the booming healthcare sector. Innovations in health technology, from fitness trackers to telemedicine and VR applications, are transforming how we manage and improve health outcomes. These advancements not only cater to current health needs but also present lucrative business opportunities.

Investing in healthcare businesses- medical tourism, telemedicine startups, and medical equipment manufacturing-can not only be profitable but also contribute significantly to enhancing India’s overall healthcare ecosystem. With rising public awareness and the growing demand for accessible healthcare solutions, the future looks promising for entrepreneurs looking to make a meaningful impact and drive positive health outcomes across the country.

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