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Investing into a stronger healthcare system – made in India for India and the world

Please comment on the impact of COVID-19 on the Indian MedTech industry
COVID-19 has shown that a resilient healthcare system is a strategic asset for the emergence of the Indian economy. A well-calibrated investment strategy and participation from all stakeholders will be the key to a universal reliable system. The MedTech industry is small but rapidly growing, the landscape of this industry is fragmented and greatly influenced by improved healthcare services, financing mechanisms, and the health-seeking behavior of the patients, and understand the key enablers will be the key for the growth of the MedTech industry.

Indian MedTech industry is amongst the top 20 markets for medical devices in the world and is fourth in Asia, but the market is mainly import-dependent. Many efforts are being undertaken to promote local manufacturing in India, expand the ambit of regulations and price control, develop standards, and define procurement policies, promoting medical devices parks, setting up sector-specific promotion councils, as well as enabling phased manufacturing program. But the impact of these efforts will only be visible in the coming years.

Please elaborate on investing into a stronger healthcare system-Made in India for India and the world
For the further and effective expansion of MedTech, a long-term industry vision, backed by innovations, can help Indian medical devices industry realize its full potential, and help achieve universal healthcare coverage. We need to balance the demand-side expansion in the provider ecosystem, coupled with supply-side enablers. A composite dialogue between the government and the industry may be required with the elevation of the current scope and level of engagement. We may consider and explore the following points.

Catalyzing new medical infra creation. Incentivizing incremental quality MedTech infra creation to expand CC/ICU infra in hospitals and ambulatory/home care infra outside hospitals by creating a level playing field between local and global manufacturers, creating a roadmap for quality innovative medical infrastructure, and exploring ways for CSR to be spent on healthcare infra funding.

Boost short-term health infra-availability and productivity. Use of technology and automation for productivity gains and augment surge capacity. PMJAY/Insurance flexi funds and CSR spend can be explored to fund AMC for all medical equipment, get spares and equipment up and running, develop e-ICU mandate in hospitals above minimum beds, training for frontline equipment technicians, and remote monitoring. Create a program to audit and get every medical equipment and allied COVID infrastructure to be up and running within 30–60 days.

Health financing. One additional area for focus could be expanding private insurance cover. Increased coverage of insurance particularly, in Tier-II and III towns will drive capacity growth as high-quality providers will have confidence in the paying capacity of the patients. 48 percent of the population travels 100 km to access healthcare; there are opportunities to build asset-light models powered by digital technologies improving access and affordability, with appropriate reimbursement and financing models.

Building rural/peri-urban pandemic resilience. Invest in emergency ambulances and medical/testing infra for rural India, where the pandemic is gaining grip – community testing, referral emergency, and non-emergency transport and vaccination. Exploring asset-light PPP models for peri-urban/rural infrastructure building and services delivery.

Ease of doing business. While a lot has been done, but still a lot more can be done, especially for creating mechanisms for informed decisions, linked to quality/standards with inputs from the industry and consumers. A consultative process with checks and balances needs to be created as we need to develop a framework that ensures that quality and patient safety are never compromised. This will require us to consider value-based procurement norms, which reward best-quality/patient safety per unit of cost (not cost
alone).

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