With the healthcare budget to be announced shortly by the Honourable Finance Minister, here are some areas that one hopes will be focused on to ensure that healthcare in India evolves to meet the nation’s needs.
- Increased focus on Subspecialized Telemedicine – Governmental support in Telemedicine by creation of nationwide networks such as E-Sanjeevani has also been seen to be of great value and benefit, serving over 92 million patients. In the 2022-2023 budget, the allocation of resources for Telemental health was a consequence of the Covid pandemic’s impact on mental health. This included the creation of 23 telemental health centers of excellence. The same approach and budgetary focus should be extended to support additional specialized forms of telemedicine such as teleradiology and telecardiology, both specialties where significant physician shortages currently constrain healthcare delivery.
- Increased budgetary allocation for screening for breast cancer. Under the NPCDCS a total of 298 District NCD Cells and 293 District NCD Clinics have been established in the country to allow for screening. Additional budgetary allocation specifically for screening programs for Breast Cancer would be of significant value, given that Breast cancer is now the most prevalent cancer among Indian women and late presentation is the major cause of mortality and healthcare costs. This would include implementing mammography services either at the District Hospital level or through a mobile van-based system for rural access.
- Increased budgetary commitment for Emergency services. Injury is the second most common cause of death in India after age 5, second only to ischemic heart disease. About 5 lakh people are involved in vehicular accidents in India every year, resulting in 1.5 lakh avoidable deaths per annum. Over the past decade, there has been a significant increase in the plethora of emergency presentations including acute stroke, myocardial ischemia, traumatic injury etc. Increased budgetary provision for emergency care by establishing more emergency medicine and trauma care centers across the country will benefit the nation’s health by ensuring that higher levels of emergency care are provided which will improve patient outcomes.
The author is Dr Arjun Kalyanpur, CEO and Founder, Teleradiology Solutions.