The healthcare industry is a complex one that is unlike any other industry in the world. No country has optimally managed healthcare delivery so far; this includes the most advanced countries such as the USA, the UK, Sweden, and Australia. There are problems everywhere, but learnings arise from these problems. For example, from the USA, we learn that paid healthcare delivery drastically increases the disparity between the have’s and have not’s in a developed country. We learn that India is heading that way too. From the UK, we learn that free healthcare for everyone does not work because the waiting list for elective consultations with a specialist or elective surgeries can be incredibly long; many would have either recovered from their problems or died from them. From Sweden, we learn that just incentivizing the counties is not enough.
One thing is certain: healthcare delivery comprises of four Ps – Preventive, Public, Primary, and Private healthcare. Public and primary healthcare should be focused on by the government. The last P – private healthcare – is operated by charitable organizations and/or private healthcare players. This P should be approached by partnering with the government rather than against them in order to make healthcare affordable to everyone. Currently, India’s nationwide primary and public healthcare systems fail to reach international standards; until we fix this, it is going to be impossible to fix tertiary care.
A significant reason why the healthcare delivery industry is so complex, compared to other ones, such as the software or airline industry, is because the way a person reacts to a medicine cannot be standardized. Responses to a medicine vary from person to person. Sometimes, it is based on genetics, but sometimes adverse effects or anaphylaxis can happen to some, but not to all – and this is not predictable.
The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us a lot of things:
- We need to urgently fix our healthcare system.
- Primary and preventive healthcare needs to be strengthened. If the government cannot do this alone, we need to draw in or provide incentives for private or charitable organizations to help.
- Public healthcare needs to be fixed in terms of performance, elimination of corruption, accountability, and finally transparency.
- Tele-consultations have made a huge impact in providing healthcare during pandemic. This can be translated to the way we provide healthcare to rural people in India – who are currently underserved.
The pandemic has increased incentives for many start-ups and for technological innovation in healthcare industry. Lots of digitization and usage of artificial intelligence are making waves in a big way in healthcare delivery in India. Who would have thought that you can get medicines ordered from a mobile phone and delivered to your door within 1 to 3 hours? People in Kashmir can consult a doctor in Kanya Kumari with tele-consultations. One can even provide counselling for mental disorders through zoom or tele-consultations. Algorithms are being developed to identify high-risk illnesses much earlier than they currently are. These are some examples of how healthcare delivery is shaping up in India for the next decade.
Cloudnine, a maternal and neonatal chain of hospitals in India, was established by us in 2006 to provide international standards of healthcare for women and children. Currently, we have three tele-NICUs operating in the country and we plan to increase them to double digits – as we have 14 command centers in India, the largest by one single chain of hospitals. Obviously, with our expansion comes the purchase of new equipment from our suppliers and procurement of advanced technology like we always do. We plan to improve healthcare delivery in India in a big way with digitization of many things, including identifying high-risk deliveries, babies at high risk of sepsis, and so on.