Exclusive: Practo Founder says Modi govt should do away with regulatory hurdles in the healthcare sector


Amongst all sectors in India, healthcare is one sector that has managed to both attract and deter startups from foraying into this segment. Some realise the enormous opportunities that the sector presents for growth, while there are many who are discouraged by the abysmal condition of the industry. Healthcare startup Practo belongs to the former category. And there is a reason to why, its founder Shashank ND, founder and CEO decided to venture into this particular segment.

“Healthcare offers enormous opportunities. Healthcare is one sector that consumers across age groups, cities identify with. In fact, healthcare sector is likely to touch nearly $300 billion by 2020. So this is a sector, which has many problems, offers everyone ample opportunities to innovate,” Shashank tells BI India in an exclusive interview.

In fact, he bets big on the Startup India, Standup India campaign and expects it to put startups in the limelight. “In a few decades, startups can improve the life of the country but also boost the economy of the country. The government and the prime minister leading from the front just show how important startups are for the country,” he says excitedly.

So what does he expect from the initative? Well, he says that the focus remains on the policies. “We talked about how the policy makers can facilitate the growth of the industry and how we can be more effective with their support. I expect that the attitude of this government will become more attentive towards startups. They will start prioritizing startups in their priorities.”

He adds, “I also expect that there will be a lot more clarity in the regulations because startups always work with the cutting-edge technology, innovation. This will clear the roadway for startups to grow in the economy.”

Regulatory hurdles? Explaining his point, he notes that India has a very good domestic market which will continue to propel the growth of startups. But there are a lot of hurdles that startups will come up with, which the government needs to do away with. “An exodus of companies is happening in India because of regulatory hurdles. I believe that the government should take steps to retain companies in the country so that they can contribute to the economy,” he states.

So what are these? Well, to begin with, Shashank says startups are digitalizing the healthcare economy. “We are taking the doctors, patients and other stakeholders online. For instance, there are a lot of regulations that are not clear for online pharmacies, which I think makes it difficult for these players to be around for long.”

He quickly adds, “My biggest grievance is there is no clarity in regulations when it comes to digitalization about healthcare sector such as diagnostics, pharmacies, which if digitalized could be very helpful.

He also talks about the acute shortage of professional doctors, a challenge that has marred the growth of healthcare sector in rural India. “We are connecting doctors through internet and mobile, we can connect them with the patient anywhere in the country. But where it isn’t possible, there comes a huge gap. If the person in a rural setup can be given basic training and need not have a medical license but can have the requisite facilities where they can take care of the basic needs of the patient, it will reduce the stress on the healthcare setup in rural India. I think, we need de-skilling in healthcare sector,” he clarifies.

Besides, protection of Intellectual Property Right especially in the healthcare sector is also a burning issue for him. “If IP is protected in India, the Indian companies will be valued a lot more and more companies will be willing to innovate and bring their products to the market,” asserts Shashank.

So what is his advise to the young startupreneurs? “Well, innovate. Don’t copy what is happening in other markets. Be original and also be patient. Results don’t come overnight!”

Wise words Shashank!

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