With the medical device industry estimated to be worth $2.75 billion and expected to grow to $14 billion by 2020, an increasing number of large healthcare companies have been developing low-cost, high-quality medical devices tailored for low-income communities. Over the past three years, a range of companies including GE Healthcare, Johnson & Johnson, and Roche Diagnostics have developed products such as low-cost ECG machines, knee implants, and cardiovascular screening devices. Approximately 80% of the medical technology market consists of imports, though a growing number of Indian companies are tapping into the opportunity.

Mumbai: Consumer goods companies have already found their pot of gold at the bottom of the pyramid. Now, its the turn of medical technology and device manufacturers to chase that rainbow as they reach out to the segment with low-cost innovations , specifically developed and manufactured in India.

Since the rural markets and under-penetrated semiurban markets continue to hold a promise, healthcare companies are introducing devices ranging from low-cost cath labs to screening device for cardio-vascular diseases suited for use in such settings. Much of the trend has been driven by the fact that accessing healthcare is a challenge in the country, particularly for the low socio-economic class and rural consumers.

Check out the action: Johnson & Johnson has developed a knee implant suitable for the Indian market as well as a reusable stapler for use in surgeries, both at amenable price points for the domestic markets. GE Healthcare has developed a low-cost ECG machine and an affordable ultrasound machine. Roche Diagnostics has introduced a screening device for cardio-vascular disease suitable for use in rural settings . Transasia Bio-Medicals has introduced its in-vitro diagnostic equipment through its R&D base in Mumbai.

The trend, which started two-three years back, is now gathering momentum with multinationals developing affordable medical devices and diagnostics. Sensing an opportunity , even domestic players are moving in for a piece of the pie. At present, around 80% of the medical technology market consists of imports . The last few years have witnessed an increase in the domestic manufacture of medical equipment, in certain cases developed specifically for the rural markets or suited for domestic settings.

Over the years, GE Healthcare has introduced a host of products under its approach ‘In India, for India’ , and at a fraction of the imported products’ cost (ECG devices). Says Munesh Makhija, chief technology officer, GE Healthcare, India: “We call it ‘healthymagination’ and are committed to make this a reality by bringing at least 100 new solutions that will help reduce costs, increase access and quality.”

The medical technology industry – valued around $2.75 billion, comprising medical equipment, implants, disposables and furniture – is expected to grow to $14 billion in 2020 at a compounded annual growth rate of around 15%, according to PwC. It includes a host of products, devices and even furniture right from band-aids , stents, catheters , pacemakers, implants and +imaging equipment to dentist’s chairs.

Roche Diagnostics, with a 20% share in the in-vitro diagnostics global market, is focussing on emerging market economies, including India. Says Roche Diagnostics India and South Asia CMD Dr Bhuwnesh Agrawal, “We are trying to adapt globally wellproven technologies to serve the Indian market. The idea is find products where the development costs are at a minimum , but quality is of a highlevel . And, we also focus on development of new products which are specifically needed in the Indian context.”

With 70% of the population residing in rural areas, the company has devised a cardio-vascular device iCCnet , which allows patients in remote corners to access cardiac care. The data collected from a blood test is sent to a cardiologist who can then advise treatment.

Even domestic companies have smelled an opportunity. Opto Circuits, for instance, offers cardiovascular interventional products, mainly cardiac stents, body implants and monitoring systems, at nearly half the price of its competitors , according to the company’s co-founder and directorengineering , Jayesh Patel.

Sujay Shetty, partner, PwC India, sums up well. “Since India is largely an out-of-pocket market, frugal innovations are driving the growth, with even MNCs introducing costeffective therapeutic devices and diagnostic products. Also , the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana targeted at those below the pyramid, is adding impetus to the growth” .


The medical technology industry is valued around $2.75 billion and is expected to grow to $14 billion in 2020 At present, around 80% of the medical technology market consists of imports But this could change over the next few years, with biggies starting local manufacturing.