India requires a plan to build a robust and resilient healthcare system
The nursing workforce in India has one of the highest attrition rates in the country
New Delhi, January 16, 2023:
Covid19 exposed the vulnerabilities in our healthcare delivery system and overall Healthcare Industry. Our government is considering several measures for the overall economy to recover. Industry experts suggest a multi-pronged approach to strengthen healthcare delivery & outcomes.
Healthcare is under-served and under-consumed. India requires a plan to build a robust and resilient healthcare system, which can only be done by increasing investment (both public and private).
According to Dr. Alok Khullar, CEO, Gleneagles Global Health City, Chennai, The approach includes focus on budgetary allocation and focus on enhancement of capacity in the following areas:
- Medical Education: In recent years, many additional medical colleges are being set up increasing the number of doctors passing out. However, a critical area for improvement is the quality of medical education and hands-on training for these doctors to be job ready to deliver patient care at a minimum standard. In addition to attracting the right faculty, there must be investments in building skill labs across medical colleges and standardizing the assessment criteria and framework.
- Healthcare Infrastructure: Expanding bed capacity is not enough as the quality of care delivered depends on multiple factors including the type of bed capacity (Ward vs ICU), medical equipment, Oxygen supply, and Supply chain efficiencies among multiple other factors. The private sector plays a huge role in providing tertiary & quaternary care and thus should get the adequate financial impetus to enhance its capacity. Hospitals, in particular, get economic SOPs like Special Economic Zones do to develop and deliver care at an effective cost for patients.
- Nursing & Allied Healthcare Staff Education & Training: The nursing workforce in India has one of the highest attrition rates in the country as they go overseas for better financial remuneration and quality of life. There must be sustained investments into improving the quality of Nursing Education and hands-on training in the existing Nursing colleges to have a job-ready workforce to replace the exodus of trained nurses from India. A similar focus is needed in Allied & Paramedical Staff education & training.
- Medical Equipment: Most of the high-end Diagnostic, Imaging, Intervention, Precision, Monitoring & Surgical equipment are manufactured abroad and imported to India and come at a huge cost to Healthcare Providers. The industry requests the Government to invite Global Medical Equipment Manufacturers to set up factories in India under “Make in India” to lower the cost of production and therefore price and provide employment to millions of Indians.
- Research & Development: Healthcare Research in India is limited and needs sustained support from the Govt to enhance and increase the R&D efforts and sell the successful results to the entire world. As of now very few Innovator molecules if any are researched & developed in India. The same goes for precision surgical instruments.
- Healthcare Financing: Considering the rising cost of healthcare, it is essential to have health insurance for every family. Unfortunately, one has to insure a vehicle mandatorily to drive on roads but the driver and passengers don’t have to have health insurance. The government should provide better financial incentives for people to buy health insurance and make it mandatory for people above the poverty line to reduce the financial burden on household savings because of illness. Further impetus is needed for the development of the health insurance industry.
According to Dheeraj Jain, Founder & MD, Redcliffe Labs:
Turning to preventive care is the need of the hour. Despite the fact that it can significantly lower medical costs and detect life-threatening health conditions early, it is undervalued. Therefore, improving testing facilities or diagnostic services in Rural Bharat need to be of the utmost importance.
Additionally, the GST for the healthcare industry needs to be rationalised so that the businesses in the sector may attract more investment and provide services to customers at affordable rates. Furthermore, healthcare services in tier II and tier III cities need to be strengthened, especially when it comes to hospital facilities, which might be explored using a PPP model.
Additionally, the budget should include a strategy for increasing the availability of healthcare professionals, particularly in Tier 2/3 & 4 towns.
The forthcoming budget should also focus on healthcare digitization because it is a fundamental precondition for providing value-based care throughout India’s healthcare continuum. In India’s Tier II and III cities in particular, adopting intelligent solutions can help decrease barriers between hospitals and patients, improving access to care and raising overall patient satisfaction.
Furthermore, the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission should be implemented in all hospitals, especially those located in rural areas. In addition, the implementation of consolidated medical records and digital health ID cards must be emphasised for seamless access to patient data in one location.