As the country recovers from the losses caused due the Covid-19 pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2022. India is in between a slip and miss situation with the ongoing third wave due the Omicron. It was expected by experts that Healthcare will be centre of subject on the budget day, as the need to prioritize the industry by easing policies and taking various measures from the lessons learnt in the last 2 years. A near collapse of the healthcare system stared the country in its face and FM highlighted fresh initiatives like National Digital Health Ecosystem and National Tele Mental Health program. We spoke to a few players from the Health and Pharma sector and came across contrasting views. While some intiatives were welcomed with open arms, there were still a few points that the industry was expecting FM Nirmala Sitharaman to touch upon.
A brief list of takeaways from the key stakeholders in the Healthcare industry of India below:
Mr.Satish Kannan, Co-founder & CEO, MediBuddy
The pandemic has only further escalated and triggered these issues, further causing a rise in the same. We warmly welcome the decision taken by the Honourable Finance Minister in the budget to set up a National Tele-Mental Health Programme, to support the mental health grievances of citizens across the country.
Mr. Harish Iyer, Head of Finance, Carestream India
Key expectation from budget were ways and means to accelerate healthcare sectoral. This includedIncreased public spend in health care to 2.5-3% of GDP as envisaged in the National Health Policy 2017, Reduction of GST rate on medical equipment and devices and abolition of levy of cess on imported medical equipments. On this front, the Union budget does not give any clear directions and has no blockbuster announcements.
Nimith Agarwal, CEO, DoctCo
Mental health has been a long-unspoken issue that has been given its due importance with the launch of National Tele Mental Health Program. The program promises to benefit rural people from lower strata who cannot afford the necessary treatment, thereby reducing potential suicides and quashing the stigma around mental healthcare.
Seema Arora, Business Head – Consumer & Digital, South Asia, Asia & Latin America.
The Government of India’s announcement to roll out an open platform for the national digital health ecosystem will go a long way in promoting digital healthcare technologies in India. Digital registries for healthcare providers and unique health identities are pivotal in promoting research and innovation for the healthcare sector, all while easing healthcare access for Indians. The proposed digital healthcare registries will also help create a transformational course in nurturing good health and building world-class healthcare infrastructure in the country.
Mr. Ram N Kumar, Founder and CEO, NirogStreet
The government showcased its clear vision of prioritizing care for all and building the foundation of future-ready healthcare infrastructure in the country. With the unexpected announcement of establishing the National Tele Mental Health program, the government has taken the lead towards building a robust digitally enabled healthcare ecosystem in the country.
Mr. Abhishek Mohan, Co-founder and CEO, HempStreet
The government has showcased great enterprise in moving with the time by announcing that it will be rolling out an open platform for National Digital Health Ecosystem. The government’s decision to spend INR 64,180 Crore to improve healthcare services in the country is also encouraging. However, we are keen to see the details of an effective rollout of the digital healthcare ecosystem announced in the Union Budget 2022-23.
Dr. Alok Roy, Member, FICCI, Health Services Committee and Chairman Medica Group of Hospitals
It was expected the government to look at increasing the healthcare expenditure above 2.5 per cent of the GDP but there was not adequate attention paid to it. The budget has just focused on mental health and digitization of healthcare sector. The government should have focused more on primary healthcare investment and made the Healthcare system as National Priority’ status, as was done for the IT sector.
Dr. Veeraal Gandhi, Chairman & Managing Director, Voxtur Bio Ltd
The budget has set up a framework for digitising the healthcare ecosystem. The digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity and universal access to health facilities will enhance healthcare delivery efficiency. The focus on strengthening mobile connectivity will eventually boost the adoption of telehealth and point-of-care diagnostics services.
Amit Srivastava, Chief Catalyst, Nutrify Today
“The budget is an excellent one for digital technologies application in the healthcare ecosystem. There is a need for seamless integration of stakeholders of industry right from pharmacy to clinicians to dietary practitioners to hospitals for effective patient management and efficient healthcare. The use of digital technologies will give birth to exponential growth of Nutraceuticals as a preventive category and also as adjuncts to optimize therapy leading to evolution of nutraceutical medicines!”
Kamal Narayan Omer, CEO, Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council
The finance minister announced the rollout of an open platform for the National Digital Health ecosystem. Interestingly, the ecosystem will also consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, providing a unique health identity and universal access to health facilities. India, right now, is on the cusp of witnessing a digital health highway. An open platform for a digital health system perfectly fits with the overall strategic vision and direction that the Government of India currently has with flagship missions such as Ayushman Bharat, Swachh Bharat, Digital India and Make in India, all contributing towards a healthy and prosperous society. Secondly, blending digital approaches into traditional healthcare models will also tackle the long-standing problem of health inequity, affordability, and accessibility.
Sujay Shetty, Partner & Leader – Health Industries, PwC India
The overhaul given to SEZs will benefit Indian Pharma exports. Improving the logistics by creating a Unified Logistics Interface Platform will reduce the supply chain bottlenecks. Tax benefit (15%) given to companies looking at setting up manufacturing facilities in India extended by a year to 2023, which will help new pharma manufacturing units come up.
Sheikh M. Arif, Founder and Managing Director, Famous Medicare
The open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem being rolled out is a step in the right direction, as it will provide better access to healthcare facilities, and increase efficiency in the healthcare industry as well. The National Tele Mental Health program is also a much awaited move which will increase awareness about mental health, and provide access to mental health services regardless of distance. The budget certainly reaffirms our faith in the government’s commitment to give the utmost priority to the healthcare industry.
Dr. Joseph Thomas- CEO of Medlounges
It is very welcoming to know about the National Digital Health Ecosystem, which will provide access to citizens’ health care data on a national network. This will speed up any medical processes in the health care system and can avoid unnecessary repeated investigations. It will also be an easy transition to a paperless health care system. But we need to look out for the villages and outskirts where the internet is scarce and needs to improve their health care system in such a way that the villages are also benefitted.
Mr. Raktim Chattopadhyay, Founder & CEO, Esperer Nutrition
As we were expecting, start-ups were given keen importance in the budget. The ECLGS credit scheme guarantee cover has been expanded by Rs 50,000 crore, which will provide collateral-free loans to stressed-out MSMEs. The Govt has confirmed support for R&D expenditure, AI, genomics, etc. which is very encouraging. We shall wait for the right spirit in the implementation of all good plans in budget 2022.”
Dr. Rana Mehta, Partner and Leader – Healthcare, PwC India
The pandemic has caused a silent global mental health epidemic. The use of telemedicine to diagnose and treat such patients has proved to be highly effective given the unobtrusive nature of the interaction which also ensures patient privacy. Given the shortage of mental health professionals, especially in rural areas, telemedicine will greatly enhance accessibility for patients requiring psychiatric help.
Dr. B S Ajaikumar, Executive Chairman, HealthCare Global Enterprises Limited
It was disappointing not to hear of any announcement on many critical areas facing the healthcare industry, like the urgent need to raise healthcare expenditure to at least around 2.5% of GDP. Given the chronic issues facing healthcare in India, 1.8 percent falls short of addressing the lingering challenges on the ground. We also need universal health coverage to enforce uniformity of treatment through cross-subsidy, devoid of financial strain and debt traps for the economically challenged.
George Aikara, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), United Way Mumbai
Encouraging to see investments into climate action, mental health, lost learning, drinking water and anganwadi upgradations in the budget. Had hoped to see significant scale up in public health infrastructure and upskilling for livelihoods. Steps towards building a larger security net for the under served like the PM Awas yojana are very welcome.”
Mr. Shailesh Guntu, CEO – Milann Fertility & Birthing Hospitals
Although the announcement on the launch of a national tele mental health programme has come as a relief in view of the mental health issue which emerged as a result of the pandemic, there are many other major health concerns which need to be addressed like stress and lifestyle issues which are also regarded as direct result of the pandemic. Considering the same, fertility treatments like IVF will become a mainstream need for future generations and they have to be brought under health insurance parameters.
Dr Satyender Goel, Founder & CEO – India Health Link (IHL)
To further push the digital mission, it is vital for the government to partner with the private sector and use the technological innovations coming from creative start-ups in the field. A point noteworthy is the ‘Drone Shakti’ – a plan to encourage drone technology. This could be used in multiple ways in the healthcare segment too.
Dr. Shuchin Bajaj, Founder Director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals
Unfortunately, we haven’t heard much on health care and education in this budget. The welcome part of the budget is that the national digital health ecosystem has been opened up and the National Mental Health tele helpline is being launched. Mental health has been disregarded for a very long time in the country. But overall, haven’t had any exciting news so far from the budget, which we were looking forward to.
Dr. Tushar Grover, Medical Director, Vision Eye Centre, New Delhi
Even as the pandemic apparently seems on its way out notwithstanding the persisting risks, the endeavour to comprehensively digitalise the health infrastructure in the form of National Digital Health Ecosystem along with setting up of mental health centers of excellence must be welcomed by all means.
Dr. Surendra k Chikara, Founder & CEO, Bione
The importance given to high-quality healthcare, the plan for a National Digital Health Ecosystem, the tele mental health program and the extension of the tax breaks to startups in this budget are all measures in the right direction. We highly welcome the implementation of such measures. The burden of chronic diseases can decrease significantly with the use of advanced techniques like preventive genetic testing. Hopefully, this aspect will be more in focus in the coming years.
Ms. Vandana Luthra, Founder, VLCC Group
The allocation of INR Rs 64,180 crore over the next six years to improve healthcare services and the National Tele Mental Health program are welcome and critical steps in the pandemic era. Also, the roll out of the National Digital Health Ecosystem will go a long way in ensuring universal access to health facilities and it is an expectation that it will also expand to bring in preventive healthcare services under its ambit.
Mr Mahavir Bafna – CEO, Bafna Pharmaceuticals Limited
Digitisation of the national health ecosystem is a welcome move announced in the Budget. Digitisation of health registries of health providers and facilities will help the beneficiaries access to health facilities, especially in rural India. This will positively impact the pharmaceutical companies also, it being an integral part of the healthcare sector.
Dr. Gayatri Kamineni, COO, Kamineni Hospitals
Realising the tremendous pressure piled on the minds of the people of India due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FM’s announcement of the National Tele Mental Health programme couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
Chander Shekhar Sibal, Senior Vice President, Medical Division, Fujifilm India
We’re pleased to hear about the Finance Minister’s promising move of the open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem. As we’re rapidly moving ahead in a digital economy, this will help not only in consolidation but also unite medical records for better visibility for healthcare providers.
Prabhdeep Singh, Founder and CEO, StanPlus
The upcoming launch of an open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem is exciting news for us. It will include digital registries of health providers and facilities, a unique health identity, and universal access to health facilities, all of which will aid us in saving lives by allowing us access to contextual health information in quick time, enabling faster and better medical response in emergencies.
Dr Harshit Jain, Founder and Global CEO, Doceree
The proposed national tele-mental health programme will create a supportive environment for people to talk about emotional issues they counter on a day-to-day basis and help remove the stigma that we have around mental and emotional problems.
Vivek Tiwari , CEO of Medikabazaar
From a supply-chain standpoint, the last two years have been very challenging and as stated in the survey 2022, the government had opted for a barbell strategy to cushion the impact on vulnerable sections, with the covid restrictions easing out we hope for a pickup and recovery in the overall supply chain scenario and an upturn in the performance of the sector.
Rajiv Mistry, Founder & Managing Director, Ascent Group of Companies
The Government has laid out an ambitious vision for Healthcare. The announcement of the National Digital Health Ecosystem which will be an open platform that will capture all the stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem, backed by a unique health ID will help form a robust network to map and rollout healthcare facilities to all and improve accessibility.
Akshat Seth’s, CEO, CK Birla Healthcare Pvt. Ltd
The creation of an open platform to consolidate the healthcare ecosystem, providing access to the digital registries of healthcare providers, and ensuring a unique health identity, will be pivotal in providing universal access to healthcare facilities across India. Additionally, the launch of the National Tele Mental Health Program is a very progressive step and will enable the country to tackle the psychological impact of the pandemic and move forward.
Rohit Sahni, CEO & Co-Founder, WK Life
Nothing much has been announced for the retail sector which was expecting some major announcements. We expected that the union budget will provide financial support/incentives, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses, to help accelerate the digital India vision. So we can say that it is highly disappointing that there is nothing for the most affected sector that is retail sector”
Devangana Mishra, Founder & CEO, Brain Bristle
We need to deeply care about allocating not just budget in quantity but in the highest quality above all. Apart from allocating millions to expand mental health as a facility, we need to make it strategic, sharp and focused to make sure everyone works towards empowerment and inclusivity in our society.
Maharukh Rustomjee Managing Partner, Amaterasu Lifesciences LLP
While a lot was expected to boost pharma R&D, there is little to encourage companies like ours who work in the contract research segment and on innovative R&D projects with heavy upfront investment.
Rekha Dubey, CEO, Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital
We were expecting an increase in the allocation to the healthcare department to address the burden of the pandemic and build the digital infrastructure. Though not directly allocated, the new announcements come as a progressive step towards the development of Indian healthcare Digital infrastructure.
Sanjeev Dahiwadkar, Founder & CEO of Cognota Healthcare
With the non-reduction of the GST on medical devices and the lack of tax rationalisation of healthcare services, the government has missed an opportunity to make healthcare affordable for billions of citizens. The pandemic has put healthcare at a pivotal position and the government should provide the right policy environment in the form of tax concessions, investment-friendly regulations till the society develops collective skills to deal with the new normal.
Anish Bafna, CEO & MD, Healthium Medtech
Increased investments in infrastructure will help improve supply chain and aid customer access. Custom duty exemptions on medical devices and revision of tariff structures for manufacturing intermediates will strengthen India’s supply chains for a global hub in medical devices. The open platform for National Digital Health Ecosystem will benefit health providers and care givers with universal access to healthcare facilities.
Anuradha Gupta – Director, Brickwork Ratings
The Union Budget 2022-23 provides a thrust on promotion of National Tele Mental health schemes, and establishment of telemental health centres in the aftermath of the pandemic which has exacerbated mental health issues in individuals of all age groups and which have largely remained undiagnosed or untreated. The Government’s announcement to initiate various National Mental Health programmes and to set up 23 mental health institutions for counselling services to combat mental health issues, is a welcome step.
G. Srinivasan, CEO, Athulya
Another progressive move by the government is the launch of DESH-Stack eportal for skilling and reskilling citizens. This will address the current need to enhance the skills of existing healthcare workers. The continuous development programs will be a game changer across all sectors, facilitating knowledge creation for people by grooming them to fit the industry requirements, eventually opening-up greater employment opportunities.
Varun Sheth CEO & Co-founder Ketto.org
There is a need to build a robust healthcare infrastructure to deal with covid like situations. It was surprising to see the government’s significant schemes such as the Ayushman Bharat and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) remained severely underfunded. India ranks 179 out of 189 countries in prioritizing health in its government budgets. The latest economic survey has stressed an increase in public spending on healthcare from 1 percent to approx 3 percent of GDP to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure (OOPE) from the current level of 65% to 30%. India has one of the highest levels of OOPE in the world,contributing to high medical expenditure which drives millions of families into the depths of poverty every year. In the past few years, medical crowdfunding has played a significant role in enabling quality healthcare affordable and accessible to all.
P. K. Manglik, Psychiatrist
It mainstreams mental health and takes cognisance of strengthening the healthcare infrastructure to tackle it. Envisaging 23 centres of excellence with technological support from the International Institute of Information Technology-Bangalore (IIITB) is a powerful example of how industry-academia collaborations can help in tackling potent issues
Anand K, CEO SRL Diagnostics
Overall, the budget has been underwhelming for the healthcare sector. The healthcare industry has rallied and put all of its available resources to fight the pandemic and safeguard people’s health. We not only need more expenditure on healthcare but also effective implementation, accountability, and reporting milestones at regular intervals. We did expect that Budget 2022 will amalgamate these initiatives under the health ministry; taking health from a curative approach and disease management to promoting good health and wellness.
Universal healthcare can only be achieved when all citizens have timely access to good quality healthcare. This can only happen when healthcare expenditure is considerably increased and when there is more collaboration between the government, the private institutions, and the academia to work together and build solutions.
Rohan Verma, Co founder CEO, Breathe Well-being
The FM has acknowledged the role played by tech led health services throughout the course of the ongoing pandemic. The government is focusing even more than ever to ensure that the healthcare infrastructure of the country continues to strengthen by collaborating with new age health tech companies. For the first time ever at a national stage. As a health tech company, which helps people reverse type 2 diabetes, mental well being is an important pillar of our programme. We are keen on exploring this further once the fine print comes out. If there is a scope to collaborate with any of the stakeholders, we believe we will bring the right know-how to the table.
Dr. Miten Sheth, MS, DNB (Orthopaedics) Knee Surgeon, The Knee Clinic
The rollout of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission is eagerly anticipated. It will create a universal health information exchange system that can truly benefit a vast country like ours. Cutting edge technology including the use of robotics for surgeries like knee replacements can then transcend urban-rural barriers. Also, accountability has been major lacunae in our healthcare system and can now improve with robust data collection. With experience and evidence on our side, this digital transformation is going to set a new paradigm for our healthcare industry.
Shivjeet Ghatge, CEO, StepSetGo
We believe that the Union budget has taken into consideration the plight of the entrepreneur and is focussed on both relief and recovery. The extension of the tax incentives till 2023 and the impetus to digitalization will give us the financial freedom to focus on innovation and scale up operations. We are glad that the government is extremely enthusiastic about fuelling the aspirations of young entrepreneurial India as we believe that we have it in us to become the start-up superpower of the world.
Gaurav Kaushik, Managing Director & CEO, Meteoric Biopharmaceuticals
Being a part of health care industry, especially into MSME arena we very well know that we are highly dependent on R&D for innovation, our expectations from the Government would be to make R&D funds easily available to MSME’s, at the same time the accessibility to R & D funds should be simplified and processed in the least possible time. This will take the biopharma sector in India to a faster growth pace then predicted.
Ms Richa Singh, CEO & Co-founder, YourDOST
The announcement of the setting up of a National Tele Mental Health Program by the Finance Minister is in the right direction and will offer a strong support system for the mental wellness issues that people of all ages in the country are going through. This will play a significant role in removing the stigma attached to the topic of mental wellness in the country.
Arun Babu, General Manager, EID, Optical Devices & Instax Division, Fujifilm India
This year’s Union Budget stays true to India’s dream of making an Aatma Nirbhar Bharat. With the global chip shortage in play, India stands to benefit by putting together its local engineering and technology expertise and boost the manufacturing sector as well. We’re thrilled to be a part of this exciting economy and hope for the best for consumers. India’s digital and creator economy is well on its way to thrive and showcase the best of Indian talents on a global stage.
Dr. Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman and Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare
While it is good to see that the focus on Digitisation, Sustainability, Energy Conservation and Development of Infrastructure has taken a clear precedence in Union Budget 2022, the allocation towards Healthcare is not to the level we anticipated. Coming out of the shadows of the pandemic, it is most important to allocate at least 3% of the Budget to healthcare.
Dr. Alok Khullar, CEO, Gleneagles Global Health City
There is still a need for focused skill development for various healthcare needs which the budget failed to address. The impetus given to manufacturing sector can facilitate setting up manufacturing units for healthcare devices and equipment in India, thus, reducing the end cost. While the pandemic has unfolded many aspects of healthcare, a lot of mental health problems across all age groups were also witnessed.
Mr. Ajay Tandon, Managing Director, Veeda Clinical Research Limited
The incentivisation measures announced for sunrise industries, which include genomics and pharmaceutical research & development, will augment our national capacities in these sectors. Encouraging collaboration among academia, industry and public institutions and the push for Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission are strong measures to aggregate our national resources for accelerating innovation in drug development and access to universal health in our country.
Mr. Sudarshan Jain, Secretary General, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA)
This is India’s first post vaccination budget and the policy consistency is maintained. The planned increase in capital expenditure is likely to boost economic growth and employment. There is a thrust on macro areas like digital, VC-ecosystem, ease of doing business and supportive measures for R&D and industry-academia collaboration with Pharma included in the Sunrise sectors.
Dr. C.J. Vetrievel – Founder Chairman & Managing Director, Be Well Hospitals
The overall impetus towards primary healthcare and public healthcare is a welcomed initiative. This is a visionary budget with long term unprecedented infra spending. This provides impetus to all sectors due to the ripple effect. The allocation of funds for healthcare, being a core infra sector, could have however been better.
Amandeep Chhabra, Managing Director, Alive Wellness Clinics
The pandemic ascertained India needed a centralized healthcare system. Allocation of Rs. 37,800 crore towards “National Health Mission”, “National Tele-Mental Health Program” to assure quality counselling and breakthrough initiatives like an open platform for “National Digital Health Ecosystem” will assure digital registries of health care providers, facilities, unique health identity numbers for each individual and universal access to health facilities is a commendable move.