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Indian healthcare industry – A promising but bumpy ride!

Healthcare in India is expanding very fast with many new and corporate hospitals being set up in metros as well as Tier-II and Tier-III cities. Economy is slowing down globally but it does not seem to be affecting Indian market as many more people are entering the Indian healthcare market.
On budgetary allocation in healthcare

Budgetary allocations have always been a constraint when the Union Budget is announced as India has always allocated 1.5–2 percent of its GDP on healthcare. Though it has been increased a little bit in the last few years, it needs to be substantially increased to at least 5–7 percent to develop infrastructure and improve healthcare facilities as healthy people make a healthy nation and healthy nation is a progressive nation.

On your planned budgetary allocation for the fiscal year 2019-20
Our planned budget allocation for 2019-20 is about Rs 60 crore. At least 25 percent of it will be spent on medical equipment as we want to revamp and upgrade equipment as well as buy new ones.
On your vision for health and family welfare

Major issues that we face are lack of health education and inability to pay. Health education should be given to all including literates and illiterates through text books and media (print and electronic). The government has taken a major step by implementing Ayushman Bharat Yojana. However, many good and big hospitals have refused to treat such patients as the payment is very low and collection tedious. Government should reconsider packages and make it practical. I will advise all people to take personal health insurance as then they will have access to best of healthcare facilities.

On monitoring the quality of private healthcare
Yes, there are many brands and are scattered but to say that quality of healthcare is a concern is not true. If we compare quality of healthcare 20 years back and now, it has much improved particularly after introduction of NABH accreditation, especially in the private sector. Yes, it may be a matter of concern in government and smaller hospitals but some government hospitals are going for accreditations.

On public-private partnership
Public private partnership is very important as many government hospitals are overloaded (e.g., AIIMS and Safdarjang in New Delhi) whereas many private hospitals are lying vacant. So, patients who can afford treatment can be transferred to private hospitals. Maybe doctors could visit these hospitals on a fee basis and help in treating the patients. This will decrease the load on government hospitals and also improve patient care in private hospitals and vice versa can also be done.

On areas where government should invest
Government should invest more on healthcare infrastructure and facilities rather than paying hefty salaries to employees. The conditions of PHCs and CHCs are pathetic but their employees get hefty payment. They should outsource functions like housekeeping where people can be employed at lower salaries and do better work. The money saved can be used for improving facilities.

On policy interventionsPolicies should be to privatize healthcare to bring in more accountability as at many places government infrastructure has failed. Wherever the patient pays, he becomes more demanding and management becomes more responsive.

Healthcare is evolving and improving in quality of care. At the same time, it is bringing in many more challenges. With implementation of NABH accreditation, the quality of patient care has definitely improved. However, it has increased the cost of care due to an increase in manpower cost, infrastructure, and consumables. However, with implementation of cost restrictions on cardiac and ortho implants, Ayushman Bharat hospitals are bound to rework their operational strategy to provide services at extremely low cost and yet maintain quality. This is a huge challenge.

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