Emerging Landscape of Indian Healthcare

By Dr. Mudit Saxena, Chief Operating Officer, HealthCare Global


Dr. Mudit Saxena, Chief Operating Officer, HealthCare Global

With a measured growth of about 13%, the Indian Healthcare industry is peaking at a very rapid rate. It can be identified by the way it has contributed in the country's revenue and employee generation scales. Most of this growth has been fuelled by private sector as Govt. spending has been at 25% of overall healthcare expenditure. Hospitals account for over 70% services while pharma sector contributes 14% and medical equipment10%. The remaining 6% is shared amongst Diagnostics and Healthcare Insurance sector in India. Healthcare sector was conceived as a social commitment of the Government to its people; hence deployment of healthcare and its evolution was dependent on Govt. run policies and programmes. It was with the advent of Corporate and Trust managed Hospitals that the face of healthcare industry changed in India. The late 1990s witnessed improvement in the economic conditions that made private healthcare affordable to many Indians. These hospitals turned into Centres of Excellence and over the time, patients and communities started adopting them as preferred choices over Government hospitals. The private service providers dominate the Indian Healthcare industry and they are using innovative means to overcome some of the operational challenges. The typical Hub and Spoke models have created hubs of excellence and multiple low cost spokes to penetrate Tier2 and Tier 3 cities. This resulted in better Emerging Landscape of Indian HealthcareBy Dr. Mudit Saxena, Chief Operating Officer, HealthCare Globalreturn on investments and has attracted more investors. The Government has also initiated a Skill Certification scheme stressing on skill development rather than academic pursuits. Drugs are being procured through centralized supply chains which further bring down cost. The industry has adopted many cost effective measures to deliver affordable healthcare.

Healthcare Technologies Need To Improve Even Faster

Indian Healthcare Technology in terms of treatment modalities and competency is at par with International Standards. A couple of decades ago, this was a challenge. In the past decade South Korea and China have emerged as the new hubs of equipment manufacturing for all multinationals. The cost of production has become lesser with same quality standards. Last few years have witnessed the return of a lot of Indian doctors trained abroad. They are exposed to cutting edge technology, latest treatment protocols and are equipped with better skills. They have contributed to upgradation of treatment modalities. Conducive financial environment has helped hospitals acquire new equipment and technologies through debt or equity funding from banks and investors. Despite this, capacity utilization of resources remains a challenge, which unnecessarily spirals cost of treatment at times. Various models have developed to overcome the Affordability and Capacity Utilization of equipment ­ ranging from transfer of technologies to smaller centers (Hub and Spoke Models) or buying refurbished models to lower cost of care. Telemedicine programme for outreach areas has still not been able to create a huge impact though its use in Diagnostics has been a great success. Pharma Industry witnesses very few manufacturing plants with US FDA approved standards and strict adherence to these protocols has always been a challenge among these units.

Taking a Forward Stride through Inno-vations

The widening gap in health care expenditure by the Government, as a result primary and secondary care service may be compromised in coming times. That apart, the most worrisome factor is poor infrastructure and insufficient manpower. The Indian healthcare system continues to be plagued with shortage of beds, skilled manpower and uneven distribution of healthcare services. The beds to population ratio remain at a dismal 0.9 per 1000 population and nurses' ratio is at 0.7 per thousand. The lack of trained staff will be partially addressed by the initiative of the Skill Certification scheme initiated by the Govt. In recent years, the private sector has contributed to the increase in bed numbers. The government spending in healthcare services cannot be neglected further. The sensitivity and focus towards emerging NCDs like Diabetes, Cancer, Cardiac diseases and Obesity will define healthcare delivery in coming times. The Government should initiate plans so that healthcare costs are reduced to an extent. They will have to push pharma companies to revisit cost reduction processes. Consulting firms can contribute by assimilating these concerns across the healthcare sector and sharing it on a common platform with resolutions. Many of the hospitals are now engaging full time Consultants in major specialties to ensure round the clock availability. They may take up the role of facilitators who can help shape the future course of the industry. They can also contribute in highlighting these issues to the Government when called upon by the state for their inputs. One of the foremost areas where Consulting Firms can contribute is Skill Development and Training Centers. Most of the consulting firms have huge repositories on training. They may also identify healthcare organizations which have training facilities to impart skill sets and future employers to help strengthen this new initiative.

Preparedness and Optimism on the Way

The healthcare industry in India will continue to grow at 15%. The epidemiological shift towards NCDs and increased life span has brought new players like Diabetes Centres, Home Care models in the market. The economic growth with restrained inflation has created a disposable income for population to afford healthcare services, giving impetus to the dormant insurance sector. The Diagnostic industry wills focus on larger footprint and deeper penetration into the market. Medical tourism will continue to attract Middle East and African patients because of the affordable prices complemented with high quality offered within India. The economic policies have created an inflow of investors which are helping this market grow. Government sponsored healthcare schemes with participation of private hospitals has also sent a positive signal for industry growth. Certain policy decisions like Drug price control might resist growth in this sector while the shortage of beds, trained clinical and Para clinical staff will persist as major challenges. Despite this, the Indian healthcare industry will be one of the most promising sectors for growth in the coming decade which will not only improve and expand current services; it will also penetrate into towns and cities. I perceive a positive growth which will unlock the synergy between the robust private sector and government initiatives.

Current Issue