In the recent times, Indian healthcare has suddenly become the center of a socio-political vortex.

 

Whilst unmet opportunities exists in abundance, and though there has been significant increase in healthcare infrastructural capacity – primarily in the private sector, if the growth is maintained at this rate and without meaningful spending of public funding to strengthen our healthcare delivery, India would continue to fall short of WHO recommended bed ratio.

 

Compounding to the above is also the fact that our medical education system produces too few doctors, nurses and paramedics, to be able to create the resourcing to scale-up the market needs.

Silhouetting the healthcare delivery system of India, exists the roughly $7 billion medical technology sector. The erstwhile robust sector is suddenly plunged into such complications as price control, being clubbed together with pharmaceuticals and a tentative top-end private hospital segment.

 

However, it is a reality that extreme complexity appears almost inherent with Indian-ness; and it is from this maxim that I derive that the future is one with hope and opportunity.

Urbanisation, lifestyle changes, proliferating non-communicable disease, and a large birth quotient – all of these factors would further increase the opportunity for all stakeholders to serve Indian patients with quality and global best healthcare.

 

To realise the opportunity, what is needed are the following:

 

  1. The Government must create a risk-pooled healthcare reimbursement program driving towards a value-based and outcome focussed universal coverage (cost of sickness care will always remain constrained as long as it is out of pocket).

This will scale access and market size, a huge necessity, since plainly put, we are too small a healthcare market for the size of our population. We have to be a bigger sized market place.

  1. Adoption of globally benchmarked health technology assessment and not create quick-fix, standalone Indian quality standards. Investing in high healthcare quality actually saves money in long term.
  2. Realisation in multiple stakeholders that private sector bashing cannot do good for the country. Universal healthcare in this country can only be realised through private hands.
  3. Development of a nuanced, globally benchmarked and competitive ‘Medical Technology Policy’. Innovative technology, digital healthcare, prevention focussed mobile health, home care, early screening & diagnosis are things that can change India’s health paradigm.
  4. Building an eco-system that focuses more on ‘Create / Innovate for India’ and less on an un-nuanced ‘Make in India’. We need to fit and utilise the global supply chain, as that is the only way to attain cost competitiveness that is balanced with quality and patient safety.

 

In summary, we have loads to do, and a short time to do it in. What we must do is collaborate, bring down the trust deficit, kill silos and create global interdependencies.

What we cannot do is waste another decade in retrograding the advances made by technology and private sector exuberance.