Quality is becoming an issue in the Indian procurement process. The government, till now a discerning customer, having restricted itself to high-end medical equipment for its hospitals and according preference to outright purchase rather than placements for instruments for labs, is coming under pressure. With the Make in India fervor gripping the powers that be, and for execution of its ambitious PMSSY, it is not too surprising.
The chain of corporate hospitals and diagnostic centers do not seem to be in a procurement mode, if the 2017-18 buying pattern is any indication. Demand is forthcoming from tier II and tier III cities, where availability of funds is tight, awareness limited, and buying equipment like defibrillators and patient monitoring systems are often a mere compliance formality.
Competitively priced Chinese equipment and low-end systems are becoming the norm and gradually mushrooming in medical facilities. Patient monitors are a case in point. In 2017-18, the market share of low-end PME is estimated at 87 percent by volume and 66 percent by value of the total PME market. The role of accurate end-to-end patient monitoring, from when the patient takes an ambulance to when he is discharged from the hospital, in diagnosis and treatment administered cannot be undermined.
This is in the backdrop of a global industry where every healthcare provider and pharma biotech is adopting AI, XR (cross reality, which includes virtual and augmented reality), and prediction analytics. Medical device manufacturers are expanding their role to deliver value beyond the device by helping hospitals report on quality, offering services that engage patients in real time, improving safety and compliance, and improving physician performance. The number of apps and technologies delivering care is exploding, potentially democratizing care, and increasing access to it.
Quality care cannot be the purview of the elite, or an aspiration for some distant future; it has to be the DNA of all health systems. The human right to health is meaningless without good quality care.