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NBFCs & FinTech platforms’ foray into medical financing space change landscape of patient care expenses

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Saturday, June 25, 2022, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) and FinTech platforms are seen to bolster the medical loan ecosystem. These companies are seen to partner with healthcare providers to provide better access to affordable credit for patient care.

The implementation of technology has led to easy access to medical care via virtual platform technologies like telehealth, remote patient monitoring systems, electronic medical records (EMRs), and e-prescriptions. These pave the way for strategic tie-ups between healthcare and financial institutions.

Health crises and medical emergencies catch people unawares. Patient’s families are unprepared to bear the consequent financial burden. Even health insurances fail to rescue the skyrocketing medical costs. We have seen the Covid-19 pandemic as a testament to the national and global unpreparedness, stated Kunal Kishore Dhawan, co-founder, Navia Life Care a digital health start-up.

This is where FinTech innovations such as digital lending and instant medical loans, have taken the centre-stage for an affordable and accessible patient care landscape in India, he added.

The pandemic compelled doctors to turn to digital medical practice mode. We are seeing video consultations to transform clinical and patient outcomes in India. EMRs and digital prescriptions have significantly seen to reduce medical errors and automate clinic practices. Similarly, digital financial services such as instant medical loans can increase doctors’ revenue and patient retention while plugging in revenue leakages, Dhawan told Pharmabiz in an email.

With burgeoning out-of-pocket expenses, rising treatment cost, and growing incidents of acute illnesses, the necessity for affordable healthcare has never been more urgent. Owing to the gap between need and support, patients lacking collaterals, stable employment and verifiable credit history in the un-bankable and underserved population find themselves knocking on the doors of informal moneylenders. This is where healthcare-focused NBFCs and FinTech enterprises have introduced a healthcare model of ‘Care Now Pay Later’. These platforms provide instant loans at zero-cost EMIs that patients can pay in easy instalments, he noted

Currently, the medical loan ecosystem is dominated by incumbent financial institutions that either provide exorbitant loans or deny the un-bankable populace access to it. But as the tide turns, new FinTech players such as Aarogya Pay are venturing into the healthcare ecosystem and gaining a foothold. More strategic tie-ups between healthcare providers and financial institutions can fortify the ecosystem. Greater awareness of such facilities will prevent the exploitation of vulnerable people at the hands of informal moneylenders in medical emergencies. A healthcare-oriented FinTech landscape can catalyse healthcare affordability as well as create a smooth payment infrastructure, pointed out Dhawan.

The financial disparity in India has led to unequal access to healthcare. The only remedy to improving the healthcare access and affordability of 1.38 billion Indians is the convergence of FinTech and healthcare. The pandemic has provided an opportunity to accelerate digital lending solutions for healthcare and India should make the most of it. Combining digitized health information, using clinic automation and digitization platforms, with financing platforms is a sign of better lending products in the coming future, stated the Navia Life Care co-founder.

 

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