The article is contributed by Karan Gupta, COO & Co-founder of Ayu Health Hospitals
As an entrepreneur, finding solutions to real-world problems has always been my calling. There is a visible opportunity to do so in the area of the Indian healthcare system. While the overall healthcare infrastructure across the country has also developed during the pandemic there is a lot more that can be done to cater to the middle-class population of the country which arguably forms the largest percentage of the population.
The latest “Healthy States, Progressive India” report by National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) showcased state-wise ‘Health Index’ for Indian states and union territories. The report provided insights on the health outcomes, governance and information, and key inputs and processes involved. The summary of the report showed that among the larger states - Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana were considered as the best performers. However, it should also be noted that 50 percent of larger states did not even reach the halfway mark in terms of the ‘Composite Index Score’ for overall performance. The report also clearly showcased that there is a clear disparity between urban and rural healthcare as well as a difference in the quality of healthcare provided by the private and state healthcare facilities. A few areas of opportunity that could improve the healthcare system and bridge these gaps are:
A large part of the country has people who are unaware of the importance of regular health check-ups. Currently, people visit the hospital only once in a couple of years when they notice a condition. By the time they notice it, the condition might have worsened. Educating them about the benefits of regular checkups to preempt the condition from worsening is important.
Access to Healthcare
Having a healthcare facility that can provide all the necessary treatments as well as diagnostic and medication support at a short distance from one’s residence is the need of the hour. Such a facility will provide regular care to the people in that locality resulting in a highly productive workforce that will, in turn, add to the growth of that locality.
Adequately trained doctors, nurses, and technicians are a necessity for every healthcare facility to become successful. Such well-trained healthcare staff should also be supported by additional members who manage and maintain all the non-medical aspects of the hospital including - administration, procurement, logistics, etc.
Affordability and Pricing Transparency
Multiple reports show that 75% of the people in the country don’t have medical insurance and have to pay for healthcare from their pockets. One of the main reasons for the general public’s distrust in private hospitals is the contrast of the amount that one needs to pay at the end of treatment vis a vis the amount quoted by the hospital before the procedure. Added to this is the difference in pricing that is provided to insured vs. uninsured patients, which is further followed by the fluctuations in pricing based on the availability of facilities and seasonality of the disease. Providing clear costs upfront to the patients will help in preparing the patient’s family for making an informed decision about the options that they have.
Confidence to Make a Pragmatic Choice
The internet, friends and family, doctors- are all sources from which people get information about their condition and the route they should take to cure themselves. However, the amount of information and the difference in the advice from each of the sources makes it difficult to decide between treatments, hospitals and doctors. Standardizing the right information about the condition, course of treatment, price, infrastructure, and the facility to avail themselves of second, third, fourth, as many doctor opinions as they need to decide on the right way forward would empower people to make the right choice with confidence.
Many of these problems in the current healthcare system can be solved with the help of technology that can standardize treatment protocols and centralise resources. With the points listed above, the healthcare setup in the country can attempt to solve many of the discrepancies through standardisation of care resulting in consistent health outcomes. This will further build better awareness amongst the patients and caregivers. Patients have the right to gather all the relevant information throughout their in-patient journey. Such transparency will rebuild the public’s trust in the healthcare system of the country and will also provide them with all the necessary information that they may need regarding the treatment options that are available to them and the most affordable price that they will have to pay for it.