Equity, Access and Affordability of quality healthcare to all is the way forward as we work for a healthier India

05 August 2016 - By GENWORKS

Healthcare is not just another business prospect. It is the essential lifeline which impacts every individuals and aids in the development of a healthy nation. The most common causes of mortality is lack of access to quality healthcare facilities. Early intervention can definitely save a lot of precious lives. But several people have to travel long distances to get standard medical services. More than anything else, it is the availability of affordable healthcare which has the power to elevate the quality of healthcare in India.

The journey of India’s healthcare journey is marked by mixed outcomes over the past few decades. The need of the hour is to build sustainable healthcare for all in India. While new policies are in place and changes are in the anvil, healthcare continues to be focused on large metros and on the wealthiest leaving the rest gasping for affordable, accessible and quality care. This is the reason why people living in the rural areas are compelled to undertake long journeys to get access to proper medical facilities. Due to the distance, a patient can lose precious time and end up in fatal conditions. The situation is further complicated by inequity in access across states and scarcity of skilled healthcare professionals. Therefore, healthcare in India is under-served and under consumed with skewed imbalance in resources.

The healthcare sector in India witnesses major participation from the private sector where most of the expenses have to be borne by the patients and their families rather than using medical insurance for the payment. While Private insurance is available in India, as are various government-sponsored health insurance schemes, a 2014 Indian government study states that “only about 17% of India’s population was insured”. The lack of medical insurance takes a toll on the rural population which is already compelled to deal with higher costs of healthcare if you take into account the lost wages, travel costs, miscellaneous expenses, etc. which are in addition to the cost of diagnosis and treatment. Despite shelling out so much money, the patients are not guaranteed access to a high quality medical facility because such a facility may not be available. The next best thing to do is to opt for facilities that have low quality healthcare infrastructure. It is abundantly clear that a status quo will be inadequate to tackle this challenging situation. While unique and complex, the situation also offers remarkable opportunities. It is important for the reforms to gain momentum while ensuring that the implementation is also done at scale. This is a multi-faceted approach that needs to be taken carefully for achieving the desired results. Moreover, the rules of the business will also have to be changed in order to improve the healthcare sector in India and allowing it to grow substantially across all regions of the country.

Technological innovations in the healthcare industry are empowering physicians to improve the quality of healthcare by giving them new ways to diagnose and treat patients effectively. By ensuring relevant technology to be within the reach of every physician and by keeping the technology simple and easy to use, the access and affordability of healthcare technologies can be ensured. By expanding the reach / access of healthcare technology, it is quintessential to keep it affordable and of the highest quality. Only then would it be possible to reap the intended benefits from its implementation. Such enormous tasks and feats is possible only with the help of innovation which would help in ensuring that relevant products reach physicians effectively.

In terms of the sale of medical equipment, the approach should be focused on selling through value rather than selling through promotion. This is why it is important to understand the needs of the physicians and catering to their specific requirements through a team of trained professionals that will ensure the provision of relevant technology while keeping the total cost of ownership low. The best way to ensure this is to encourage innovation in products as well as in distribution models.

As healthcare professionals we must begin our journey to enable affordable healthcare through relevant and high quality technology. We can make this change with a commitment during this festival of lights to “lead through innovations for our goal of building a healthier India “and making quality healthcare accessible for all.

Wishing you a very Happy and Safe Diwali!

Author
S Ganesh Prasad
Managing director and CEO
GenWorks Health Pvt. Ltd.