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COVID-19 Impact: Healthcare facilities in India witness 80% fall in demand

NATHEALTH conducted a detailed survey with small and medium sized healthcare facilities across the country to understand the major challenges and identify areas of intervention needed. Post the lockdown from 24 March, Indian hospitals have seen a large impact, especially among small and medium-sized hospitals, which are now facing existential challenges. The survey was conducted in 251 healthcare facilities across 9 states and 69 cities to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the Indian healthcare industry.

The results show an average fall in revenue by as much as 80%. 90% of the surveyed healthcare facilities are facing financial challenges with 21% facilities facing existential threat. Hospitals in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities are experiencing 78% reduction in OPD footfalls, and a drop of 79% in in-patient admissions. 90% of organizations surveyed require some form of financial assistance.

Key findings from respondent hospitals tabulated below:

Commenting on the findings of the survey, Dr. Sudarshan Ballal, President NATHEALTH, shared, “We acknowledge and appreciate the measures undertaken by the Indian Government such as extended lockdown to prevent the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases and placing public health as a priority. But there is a need to address the on-going challenges faced by the Indian Healthcare industry. Low financial performance, shutdown of OPDs, prohibition on elective surgeries, and ban on international travel have led to low footfalls from national and international patients in the last 3 months. Besides this, COVID-19 outbreak has significantly impacted cash flow in all organizations. There is a need for a stimulus package to revive the Indian healthcare industry These measures will be crucial to implement to provide much needed relief to the healthcare sector which is the frontline defense in this fight against COVID”.

The survey findings indicate that  even after the lockdown lift, the situation will remain difficult for the hospitals and nursing homes as patients will hesitate from visiting hospitals. Hospitals are working towards adapting to modern healthcare techniques and are providing consultation through telemedicine, but the problem related to OPD footfall will remain for some time. The other challenge of increase in cost of operations is also a major concern given more stringent hygiene and containment requirements post COVID

 The survey respondents also provided key recommendations to revive the industry in an effective manner and for smoother hospital operations without supply chain disruptions. The recommendations propose that the Government of India along with state governments should support the sector by providing easier financing and direct and indirect taxation support to this capital-intensive sector in the frontline of COVID. The sector needs to scale up in a high cost environment with dipping demand in all elective and non COVID procedures. – MB Bureau