The Covid-19 pandemic made all of us realize to invest into healthcare to save lives. While we are coming out of the black swan event, there is fear in the minds of everyone that, God forbid, a similar threat may happen in future. It is very important that the government focus on developing more facilities to cater to the demands of the patients along with undertaking capacity building of medical professionals.
Following are my suggestions
- While Ayushman Bharat has helped in providing coverage to large number of people in lower income group, unfortunately there aren’t hospitals and other healthcare facilities in the suburban and rural areas to cater to this demand. It will be appropriate if government builds more facilities in such areas or provide support to private healthcare providers to do so through viability gap funding.
- Regarding the capacity building, my suggestion is to have a medical / nursing college attached to all the 500+ district headquarter hospitals through PPP model. The Government already has infrastructure and private partner can come in with investments for building teaching institutions. This will allow large number of doctors and nurses coming out of this institutes increasing the healthcare workforce.
- There can be expansion of telemedicine into rural, hilly and tribal areas which are usually inaccessible through physical means so that they get connected to the government and private hospitals in the suburban and urban areas. This can be done through the existing telecom network or providing accessibility to telecommunication satellites by the ce3ntral government. In view of the ubiquitous presence of mobile phones in the country, this will give huge relief to marginalized population.
- Government should facilitate the promotion of accredited hospitals in the country abroad for attracting patients from foreign countries to India where the quality treatment is available at cheaper cost. This will help to increase the foreign exchange inflow and shall promote the image of the country. Sufficient funds have to be allocated for promotion of various features abroad by conducting roadshows and using social media.
- It is a welcome move to have unified health ID for all citizens in the country which will make seamless flow of healthcare data. More focus should be given on Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence with funding for research and innovation. With proper support India can be made into a hub for medical device development.
The author is Dr Azad Moopen, Chairman and Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare.