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Enable Flexible Regulations And Models

The future is what we collectively make it to be. The following will need to be done if we are to live up to the expectations the citizens of this country have from the healthcare industry

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The new india is aspirational. The new India is struggling to make ends meet. Welcome to the duality of the fascinating country we live in. As an integral part of the national fabric, can the future of healthcare be divorced from this reality? Can it escape the duality of stretching to beat the best in the world while being reminded that many parts mirror the statistics of sub-Saharan Africa? The same day a cancer patient gets a lease of life through state-of-the-art precision medicine, a young mother loses her life while trying to bring a new life into this world. A family in a posh colony in Delhi may be handling a cancer patient while simultaneously worrying about a young child suffering from dengue, a disease now unknown to most of the developed world. NCDs and infectious diseases co-existing at the same point in time, presents a level of complexity that is daunting.

Whatever duality we may face, providing quality healthcare to our fellow citizens is not just a monumental opportunity for the next generation of healthcare providers, but as much an obligation. The challenges are many and oft quoted, so I will only list them for completeness – lack of funds, shortage of skilled medical talent and the inconsistent provision of healthcare in the country. The problem has been admired from many angles, and it is about time we focus on solutions – as a community and as an industry.

The future is what we collectively make it to be. The following will need to be done if we are to live up to the expectations the citizens of this country have from the healthcare industry:

1) Fostering frugal innovation and leveraging technology to reduce the cost of care while preserving quality. Innovation and technology will lead to exponential improvements in diagnosis, procedures, treatments and care, as well as a radically different delivery model – from hospital treatments to remote management, and upstream disease management.

2) Encouraging the best minds of the country to think of healthcare as a viable career. Imagine what would have happened to the pharmaceutical sector if the best minds were not applied to discover life saving medication. At the same time, upskilling pharmacists, Ayush doctors, Aasha workers will be crucial to cater to primary care needs.

3) Implementing an institutional “payor” system, where the employers, health insurers or governments will cover most treatment costs while allowing open competition to create economic models to serve the needs of diverse socio-economic sects.

4)  Less posturing, more dialogue and faster action. Healthcare is a political imperative and needs to be treated as such. If not addressed well, it will likely lead to social and political unrest and diminish India’s growth. NHPS is potential game changer provided the government and private sector can collaborate constructively to develop innovative PPP models and ensure lower-cost financing.

5) Enabling flexible regulations to help multiple models thrive: single specialities, primary centres, quaternary hospitals, home care, tele medicine, aggregators and other formats we don’t know of today.  

6) Making the sector attractive for financial investors – healthcare is a long gestation investment and will need capital to create scale and reach. Economic actions, which inhibit investment in healthcare may well yield short-term political gains but will surely translate to longer term pain.  

This challenge is not for the faint hearted – it will require resilience, innovation and fortitude to deliver outcomes that the new India is seeking. Many of us are willing and see this not just as a business opportunity but as a way to shape the future of healthcare and thus contribute to nation building.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Magazine 28 April 2018 healthcare anniversary special

Rahul Khosla

The author is Chairman, Max Healthcare

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