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Ritu Srivastava

Ritu Srivastava is the Founder of Obino. She heads the product vision for the startup and has been often accused of creating Obino purely for herself. She doesn’t deny it – she has been there, done that and wants to make sure that others have it easier.

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Future of Health-Tech Industry: India In 2050

The presence of technology in our lives is ubiquitous today, and this presence is likely to evolve to permeate most parts of our life in the future, this transition is already underway. That also means, our health can be enhanced with all the wonderful interventions that technology is bringing with it.

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FAT. It’s a three-letter word that is driving billions of dollars in revenues across multiple industries around the world. It is a word that is also responsible for creating mayhem in the lives of billions, right from the ailments that get associated with it to the various social repercussions that one ends up facing, to the inevitable rise of “fly-by-the-night” operations that promise the effect only Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak could ever ascertain! 

Needless to say, it is one word that has been known to give its custodians many a sleepless night and the midnight cravings that come with the territory too! Yet, despite its mighty accomplishments, it’s no doubt considered a dirty word! No matter which way we look at it. Culturally too, the stigma attached to this one syllable word is a weighty one. 

So, when I was asked to imagine a future, for this particular industry, all the way into 2050, I decided to buckle down and fight the case of a lifetime. One that would stand for it, and not against it. While I have my personal had my journey of fitness as a reference point, and moved through the several phases that a person with weight issues typically experiences, I have had some very important revelations too! After all, this humble word was the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey! It was the harbinger of purpose for me – so unlike much of the world, I never did care much for the negative publicity that “FAT” was associated with.  For me, it was just the starting point of changing my view of the healthcare industry as I have known it, and I truly believe the future for “FAT” is big and bright (the pun works just fine too), all we need is a change in our viewing lens! 

So here I attempt to break down F-A-T into what it might mean for our future and how it will likely shape the future of healthcare as we know it. 

F = Fitness

Since pre-historic times, mankind’s tryst with fitness was driven by the will to survive. Be it hunting or steering clear of danger, the Neanderthal man was fighting fit, not because it suited his sense of aesthetics, but because it was the primal survival instinct. Today with the change of lifestyles and the world around us, somehow weight loss or staying fit has been reduced to the aesthetics and aesthetics alone, propagating unreasonable expectations and driving consumers to extreme and unhealthy measures in an effort to meet those high standards of beauty. The second tenet driving the weight loss industry today is fear. The fear of failure, the fear of social rejection, the fear of not doing enough. Why the panic? What I hope will change over time, with enough education and awareness, and certainly by 2050, is our understanding of what really constitutes for good health, and how changing one’s lifestyle will have benefits that far outweigh aesthetics alone. How fitness can be empowering and clarifying instead of being another stress factor in one’s life. For the wellness and health industry, therefore, a certain key for survival in the future will be driving empowerment among its patrons instead of fear, educating and giving the onus of an individual’s health in their own hands, not snatch that power away, by making them believe they can’t do it on their own. These are the organizations that are likely to survive, thrive and really define better health in the decades to come. So, while the fitness industry in India is worth Rs. 4500 crores and is growing at 16-18% annually [*Source: https://www.smergers.com/industry-watch/india- gym-fitness- industry/], what will be really exciting to see this industry collectively moving forward towards empowering individuals with good health. 

 A= Artificial Intelligence 

The presence of technology in our lives is ubiquitous today, and this presence is likely to evolve to permeate most parts of our life in the future, this transition is already underway. That also means, our health can be enhanced with all the wonderful interventions that technology is bringing with it. Artificial Intelligence in the health paradigm can help innovators in the health-tech space achieve scale and reach that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. It will help customize solutions that work for individuals breaking it down to a micro level of analysis that just isn’t possible today. It can help assess outcomes based on data and samples collected, that go beyond the surface level intelligence, for instance mapping the role your genetics play in your health status. Research in this space is already taking place at lightning speed, even as I write this. The knowledge that AI will therefore provide access to and the level of engagement it will drive among individuals is going to make healthcare delivery empowering and effective, especially with new age health tech companies who want to partake in the journey of an individual towards better health not just focus on their organization’s bottom-line. 

T= Transformation 

It will be a welcome change to see fitness and wellness companies invest in an individual’s transformation journey over the next few decades. It will be even more heartening to watch individuals use the power of technology to yield results that help them lead better lives, healthier lives. We’ve already seen technology transform our lives to get more connected, to becoming global citizens and even becoming more participative in our future in many ways. Now it’s time for technology to transform the health of every individual and perpetuate a better quality of life. We have only begun scratching the surface of possibilities when it comes to transforming an individual’s health, with fitness apps, wearables and coaching platforms charting the course already. The future is likely to drive more such innovations that make good health easier to achieve. 

In the future, these technologies could be replaced or morphed into new avatars but what will likely remain is a renewed purpose that the industry needs to align itself to. 2050 will therefore be truly successful for healthtech if we can make the journey of good health one of empowerment instead of discouragement. Of turning F-A-T from being an abusive word to one that is just a health transformation journey waiting to happen.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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ritu srivastava Obino Health-tech

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