“Healthcare is not free.”
An obvious statement, of course. Even in countries with seemingly free healthcare, they pay for it through incredibly high taxes. But there’s a reason why we’ve begun this article like that. And that’s because when we say “Healthcare is not free,” we want to highlight the fact that healthcare is at the end of day, a business too – and quite a feasible one.
But what about physiotherapy as a business?
Now, before diving deep into the economics of physiotherapy care, we want to let you know that in no form is this article inferring that healthcare is an evil business. We simply confirm that physiotherapy, like other divisions, needs to financially sustain itself through money that comes from patients. Perhaps until someone finds a way to subside those massive numbers!
Before examining the market, we need to understand the scope of physiotherapy, especially knee osteoarthritis (knee OA) since it’s the most common type of OA in India. Depending upon various factors like age, obesity and occupation, the prevalence of knee OA is about 22-39% – the number not being absolute but bordering these figures.
And, the number of cases have only risen alarmingly over the years.
With India’s upcoming generation more likely to take up a job that leads to them having a sedentary lifestyle, it seems that the cases are unlikely to come down. Bad news for the country but good news for physiotherapy-based businesses.
Now that we know cases will just increase, what does it mean in projections?
The best way to represent a financial opportunity is through numbers. The Indian industry for physiotherapy equipment has grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 12% and is expected to reach $1.9B by 2030. And while India still lacks clinics and physiotherapists in general, the number of clinics have risen an impressive 35% since 2019.
However, don’t let this misguide you. India still needs a lot more physios and clinics to address its troubles. The Indian Association of Physiotherapists (IAP) suggests that India currently has about 3.5L physiotherapists and about 300 colleges for the same. That physio-population ratio needs to get better to effectively deal with the current cases, let alone rising ones.
What future does physiotherapy hold in India?
As the numbers above have suggested, there is no deficiency in the need for physiotherapy. But as the numbers increase, there needs to be general acceptance that physiotherapy is important to India’s current and future healthcare needs. And that involves recognition from the policy making level as well – in other words, the government.
For a long time, the Indian government hadn’t given physiotherapy the importance it deserves. Fortunately, that’s changed (a little at least). Thanks to a Lok Sabha Bill in 2017 In 2017, the Central Council of Physiotherapy (CCP) was formed as a statutory body to regulate the quality of physiotherapy education. Physiotherapy care was also included (indirectly) in several healthcare-based welfare schemes like Ayushman Bharat through tertiary care.
However, that’s not the end. The investment into physiotherapy should and will continue to pour in through various channels, primarily private. And this brings about new avenues of interest and integration like Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality. We at Ashva already make use of such ingenious practices by making our equipment data-centered.
Physiotherapy is and will continue to be important in India, meaning it has a present and a growing future market. From a financial standpoint, technological development fueled by the digital age and backed by government support seems like the perfect concoction for a greater adoption. So just like the current state of the Indian economy, it seems that the physiotherapy equipment economy of India is promising – but needs to be worked upon rigorously.